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Large and grey : whales, elephants, and international law and politics.

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This thesis is an investigation into, and a gathering of evidence on, the various ways in which two iconic species, whales and elephants, and the two conventions which govern their management, the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) and the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), are linked in international law and politics. After explaining the nature of international conventions governing wildlife species generally, the respective histories of the two conventions are considered: first, that of the ICRW is considered, together with its strengths, weaknesses and current position; after which a similar assessment is made of CITES. The history of linkage between the two is considered, including attempts made to use the one to undercut the other. Various aspects of the protection, use and management of the two species are then canvassed; and it is shown how important political actors hold apparently mutually exclusive views. Throughout, the position of South Africa is particularly considered. The importance of protecting biological diversity is then considered, together with the potential harmonising role of the 1989 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the political stances of various countries, together with ongoing analysis of efforts to effect change. The natures of whales and elephants as symbols, and as special animals, are then considered. In conclusion, it is explained that both treaties could work if the political drive was present - but that this is currently absent, and the environment is suffering whilst politicians argue over the best courses to follow to protect natural resources. It is suggested that the reason that the arguments in respect of whales and elephants, the ICRW and CITES, are so bitter is because so much is at stake - for the fight on this battleground is not simply about the particular species, but the course the world as a whole should follow in all of its use of natural resources. Understanding the links between species and between treaties helps us to understand alternative possible courses. By exploring one such set of links that has not previously been analysed, the research presented in this thesis is intended to make a contribution to that understanding (both internationally and within South Africa).


Thesis (LL.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2008.


Marine mammals--Law and legislation., Whaling--Law and legislation., Elephants--Law and legislation., Theses--Law.