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Lee Asks IWC To Maintain Transpancy

Hon Sandra Lee Media Speech
Conservation Minister Asks IWC, In Short Speech To Delegates, To Maintain Transparency

(Eds note: this is not the Minister's South Pacific whale sanctuary speech which is now expected to be given early tomorrow morning NZ time)

IWC Plenary Session Agenda Item 3.2 (Secret Ballots)
New Zealand's proposed resolution on Transparency within the International Whaling Commission
(Transcript of actual speech by Hon Sandra Lee, New Zealand Minister of Conservation, to the IWC Plenary Session in London)

Mr Chairman,

As New Zealand's Minister of Conservation, I wish to state my country's deep concern for the future well being of the IWC lies behind this Resolution. The Resolution supports openness, transparency, continuing open access to the media and NGOs, and the restriction of secret ballots to the selection of the chairperson and the location of meetings. Finally, however, the Resolution also supports the independence of sovereign countries to participate in the IWC, without interference or coercion from other sovereign countries.

This final point lies at the centre of New Zealand's most immediate concerns. We recently received the transcript of an interview with a prominent member of the Japanese delegation. During that interview it was stated that there is "nothing wrong" with his country using its Official Development Assistance Programme "in order to get appreciation of Japan's position" on whaling issues.

My Prime Minister and Government view the proposition of vote-buying as outrageous and have publicly said so. Taking advantage of the poverty or vulnerability of developing countries and small island states to buy their votes can only be regarded as a serious misuse of power and influence by a wealthy nation.

I should not need to remind this organisation that Principle 10 of the United Nations Declaration on Environment and Development calls on States to, among other things, "facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available".

For many years, the IWC struggled to justify itself to the outside world because of its lack of transparency. However, increasing media access, an expanded observer role for NGOs, and keeping secret ballots to a minimum has alleviated this problem.

But all these attempts to increase transparency are made a mockery if sovereign governments lose the very thing that makes them sovereign -- the right to make their own decisions, without the undue influence of other states.

The 1970 Declaration on the Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States, in accordance with the UN Charter stipulates that:

"No state may use or encourage the use of economic, political, or any other type of measures to coerce another state in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights and to secure from it advantages of any kind."

New Zealand fails to see how tied aid or vote buying promotes good faith, transparency
or basic respect for independent governments. My Government believes it is important that the IWC is not perceived as condoning such strategies that would ultimately see participation by all but a few affluent nations becoming an exercise in futility.

It is disappointing that Japan is using such tactics as we have confidently worked alongside Japan in the United Nations and many other international fora.

My Government is sincerely disturbed, therefore, by conduct and comment that argues that such tactics are legitimate and appropriate.


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