The Balance of Power within IWC
Right out of the gate, IWC delegates were facing a crisis at this year’s meeting – the Commission was without an Acting Chair with which to conduct the Plenary. Former Acting Chair Anthony Liverpool tenured his resignation effective July 11th – the first day of the Commission – and in fact, he didn’t attend any of the Commission subcommittee meetings in the two weeks leading up to the meeting. I am certain that Liverpool’s decision to step down as Acting Chair is – as he claims – solely related to his new position in Antigua and Barbuda’s Foreign Ministry, and not at all related to last year’s allegations by the Sunday Times that pro-whaling Japanese interests paid Liverpool £4,000 (US $5,906) for his two-week stay at a luxurious hotel in Agadir, Morocco. Liverpool, who evidently goes by the nickname of “Mamba” at home, is simply a very busy guy. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it.
Perhaps not surprisingly, no commissioner was anxious to throw their proverbial hat into the ring to assume the newly-vacated Chair position. The highly-contentious IWC Commission can make a break a career, depending on the Chair’s ability to successful navigate or exacerbate the complicated landscape of the IWC. Should you doubt this, consider that a few years ago, three international moderators were hired by the IWC Secretariat in an attempt to resolve the long-standing schism between pro- and anti-whaling nations. They failed – miserably – which is interesting since these very same professionals were highly successful in developing the successful Middle East “Roadmap To Peace”!
Fortunately, Herman Oosthuizen (South Africa), a highly-respected IWC veteran commissioner, stepped up to the plate and offered to chair the meeting for the week. So far, Commissioner Oosthuizen is conducting the meeting with professionalism, respect, and courtesy. At the end of this week, the Commission will undoubtedly elect Oosthuizen as the new Chair for a term of three-years.
Which leads us to the other half of the “IWC Leadership Ticket”… the Vice Chair.
South Africa is a “like minded” (i.e., anti-whaling) nation. Although not an official rule, there is a long-standing practice within the IWC of observing a ‘balance of power’, so the Vice Chair position will likely be assigned to a “pro-whaling” nation. Word on the street is that South Korea is interested in the position. We’ll see.
Mamba. That’s a brilliant nickname, considering the circumstances.