As we have seen in earlier parts of the present publication, the legal regime relating to the international regulation of whaling had been a relatively simple collection of general international rules that permitted whaling overall but which had introduced certain restrictions in order to allow diminishing whale stocks to recover. That relative simplicity gave way to a more contentious and complex regulatory system, culminating in the Moratorium (that is to say, a total ban) on commercial whaling, though with certain exceptions that have generated much controversy. Over recent decades, significant developments have taken place in international policy-making, in that we have witnessed, among other things, the growing influence of environmental concerns, including concerns over animal welfare (explored in the previous chapter).
Presently, the ICRW remains the starting point of any legal discussion concerning whaling by States that are parties to that instrument. That said, as discussed in previous parts of the present publication, there is a whole raft of international legal agreements (alongside the acts of important interstate bodies such as the Human Rights Committee) that have implications for whaling, in that they touch upon specific aspects of whaling, including the rights of indigenous peoples and the protection of endangered species. In that respect, understanding the interplay between the ICRW regime and other international instruments is fundamental to addressing the legalities of whaling at the interstate level. The present chapter deals with this without going into too much detail about the content, jurisdictional scope and functions of other instruments. Rather, this chapter focuses on the relationships themselves. It does not purport to analyse all the relationships with all possible treaty regimes and organisations; its purpose is to illustrate questions of cooperation and coexistence between the IWC and other regimes and possible issues of fragmentation. The importance of the collaboration of the IWC with other international bodies and conventions (discussed in the following paragraphs) was explicitly acknowledged by the IWC in its Resolution adopting the ‘Berlin Initiative’.