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IWC Dirty Tricks Campaign

NEWS RELEASE - ICELAND
Iceland Accuses U.S., Others of Heading IWC Dirty Tricks Campaign

Illegitimate Activities Cited As Iceland Leaves Shimonoseki Early

Shimonoseki, 21 May 2002 The IWC Commissioner for Iceland, Stefan Asmundsson, led his delegation out of the organization’s annual meeting today in disgust after the Chairman, pressured by the United States and a coalition of anti-whaling nations, broke IWC rules and effectively prevented Iceland from taking its rightful position as a member state.

Mr. Asmundsson said: “The IWC has broken its own rules to block our participation at Shimonoseki. It has undermined its own integrity by inventing a tissue of spurious reasons why Iceland cannot be seated. Each time we have confronted its so-called concerns, the IWC has shifted the goal posts and then put its interpretations to an illegal vote. The U.S. delegation has been instrumental in all these moves.”

Mr. Asmundsson detailed four abuses that have been perpetrated against Iceland.

 The U.S. government abrogated its responsibility as the depository nation (host of the founding Convention) to properly process Iceland’s Instrument of Adherence - the vehicle for joining the IWC. The Instrument of Adherence, signed by Iceland’s President, was submitted to the U.S. on 14 May 2002 but the U.S. mischaracterized Iceland as an Observer State. When Mr. Asmundsson protested this misbehavior to the U.S. Commissioner at the IWC meeting, the latter’s only response was: “I am sorry you feel that way.”

 The Chairman of the IWC, Mr. Bo Fernholm of Sweden, compounded the U.S. abuse by not recognizing Iceland’s membership in accordance with its Instrument of Adherence.

 Mr. Fernholm then acted contrary to the IWC’s Rules of Procedure by illegally closing discussion of this matter, ignoring an intervention by Norway that pointed out the absence of the IWC’s authority in this area. He did so knowing the Norwegian proposal had the support of the majority in the meeting.

 The member states that supported the Chairman’s illegal ruling violated general principles of international law and the IWC Convention.

Mr. Asmundsson said: “It makes no sense for the IWC to bar whaling countries from participating in its decision making. By definition, the IWC needs whaling countries as members if it is to be able to manage whaling, as it is supposed to do.”

“ But we all know now that, in reality, many IWC members have no interest in discharging their treaty obligation to regulate whaling. IWC’s procedures have been usurped by countries led by the USA, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, who want to move towards a total ban on all whaling, a ban which blatantly violates the text of the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), the IWC’s founding document.”

“We are the victim of a dirty tricks campaign and have decided not to take any further part in this charade because we are compelled to sit on the sidelines while the proceedings are hi-jacked by a narrow majority that is determined to advance its own domestic cultural prejudices at the expense of its obligations under international law in general and the ICRW in particular.”

“The illegal actions we have witnessed at Shimonoseki in no way impinge upon the reality that Iceland is an IWC member.”

Iceland will now take some time to reflect on how the IWC might be persuaded to act in accordance with its own Convention in future years.

Ends

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