Attack of the cyber men.
A lengthy coffee break occurs. Some delegates have difficulty accessing the toilets because of an impromptu EU co-ordination breaking out in the way.
The clock ticks on. The air conditioning roars quietly in the background and squirts a cold breeze on the US delegation. They dispatch their distinguished scientist to get it fixed.
Elsewhere, non-EU delegates chat happily and sip their coffee. There is still no sign of a single biscuit. The States of Jersey great biscuit shortage continues.
We resume. The Japanese commissioner is worried about a cyber-attack if his contact details are published on the IWC website. They have suffered this in the past and they also raise some concerns about the clause in the UK proposal that relates to the appointment of alternate commissioners. Antigua and Barbuda has also been subjected to cyber attack. Iceland associate with Japan.
Cameroon has ‘just come into the room’ and congratulates the Chairman on his excellent work which he has not been able to see because he was not here. He speaks against the proposal from the EU/UK on the designation of an alternate commissioner of an email address etc.
Chairman: Let’s move on.
But the UK is waving and jumping up and down again; and wishes to speak to the points made. Their legal expert calmly explains their reasoning: we need a contact point for the Secretary he explains again. We are trying to move into the 21st century … and in fact a contact point could be a postal address.
Japan now replies to this revolutionary idea and there is a discussion between them over the details which the scribe misses because of a technical malfunction in his work space. (In fact, an avalanche of debris (sweet wrappers and the like) has spread from the adjacent desk of the WSPA delegation and is threatening to drown him.)
Over the next hour, the debate features a series of issues raised almost exclusively by what might be called the pro-whaling block of countries. The UK replies via its legal expert to each issue raised carefully and patiently.
At some point the UK commissioner swaps seats with the senior representative of the European Commission and EC representatives can be seen sweeping around the room.
This debate is long and detailed. We will give only a flavour of it here.
St. Kitts and Nevis would like to know the definition of the word ‘delegate’. Both governments and NGOs are referred to as delegates.
St Kitts and Nevis: this is an organisation of contracting governments and although I agree all text should be made available would like to propose an amendment to remove the word ‘delegate’ and replace with ‘duly authorised government representatives’.
Cameroon: we are a little embarrassed about the proposal of language, amazed that we go backward. We have struggled to make French a working language and now we hear that text must be in English, don’t know if we who are not English-speaking should not have the chance to appreciate this text.
Antigua and Barbuda does not like ‘the fluff’ here.
St Kitts and Nevis is concerned about situations of natural disaster.
Vicky sleeps soundly as one delegate after another raises an issues and the UK replies thus usually starting with the phrase ‘Thank you to the distinguished delegate from….’. The debate is also characterised by its slow delivery of criticisms.
Is the Union Jack drooping; will we go into evening session?
Will the evening reception which would have been hosted by the conservation and welfare NGOs be cancelled?
We hear at one point from the Head of Science. He notes that SC report previously went out in printed form and now the report can come out quickly. The report of the SC is the report as agreed by the SC. The Commission's job, he stresses, is not to change the SC report but to endorse it – if it should so wish (or indeed if they so get the chance). Japan notes that the scientific committee report is already distributed to the very wide public (really?) but stays confidential until the first day of the commission. He asks to remove the word ‘preliminary’.
The proposed rule reads ‘The preliminary report of the Scientific Committee should be made available to all Commissioners and posted on the Commission’s website by the opening date of the Annual Commission meeting or within 14 days of the conclusion of the Scientific Committee meeting.
A Caribbean country agrees with Japan.
Outside muscular herring gulls are throwing the crockery around and the snails are reflecting on their key messaging for tomorrow.
Korea questions the intention of this change.
The UK thanks Japan for improving the clarity of what was proposed and accepted the removal of the word ‘preliminary’. He explains that the intention is that the Scientific Committee meeting in the future will be held in advance of the Commission meetings and this is to allow for this. He also agrees to add the word public in front of website.
St Kitts and Nevis wants the wording ‘the official report of the Scientific Committee’ added.
The Chairman notes the time and that he will continue until we are finished with this document. It is one o’clock and the clock ticks on. Will there be any discussion about whales and conservation at all.
The debate tumbles on and on…. Some matters that were previously discussed are returned to again. St Kitts and Nevis returns to bank giraffes [Blog Editor: I have warned you about this… It is ‘bank draft’ – please pay attention.]
When he goes to the bank he has difficulties and the financial situation is acute and he cannot see a way forward. Antigua continues to be concerned about this and says so at length. The reality for developing countries is that they face certain realities. She continues to talk about how companies work …. Rigorous…. Transparent….environment … articles of incorporation… board of directors… good standing … legal enquiry … laws … legislators… ABC…. Vagaries… tomorrow may be a different story… transition situation… realities other than you own… flexibility….
The Chairman says can I just notice the differences and can I ask countries still seeking the floor to support one of the proposals. Lots of you are still looking for the floor… some of you have disappeared (he has a series of lights of front of him on the podium showing who wishes to speak) but some of you remain, he adds sadly.
The clock ticks on.
More interventions follow. Mexico says he is very ignorant about banking measures but he understands from what he has heard that bank drafts can be problematic to the secretariat. We should speak about bank transfers.
Iceland says something about terrorists. [Is he on the correct agenda item?]
There is a low chanting in a remote part of the room….’Vote, vote, vote…’ but it is not yet audible to the national delegations.
Last night the Australians hosted a fine reception and their minister, Tony Burke, made a Rousing speak which can now be found on YOUTUBE. The Australians have been funding a major and of course non-lethal research programme in the Southern Ocean.
After lunch we return to hear an announcement from Chairman Oosthuizen that the EU has asked for more time for co-ordination and the meeting will reconvene but as a private Commissioners (only)meeting. There is a loud outcry from the floor and, shortly after this, crowds of angry delegates are seen surrounding the stage.
And, even worse, Vicky has run out of pooh bags.
Stop-press: At 16.43 The Chairman announces that we shall reconvene in twenty minutes.