Resistance to collective decision-making and corresponding response: A Comparison between the IWC and CCAMLR

Prof. Leilei Zou1 Mr Yu Long

1Shanghai Ocean University, 999 Hucheng Huan Road, Pudong New Area, Shanghai, China,  2Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China

Although international institutions contribute to the conservation and management of marine living resource through collective decision-making, less attention has been devoted to the various forms of resistance to them, mainly include non-participation/ withdrawal and opt-out procedures. Thus, this article sets out to understand the impact of resistance to collective decision-making at the international level, focussing on two particular institutions (IWC and CCAMLR), as well as corresponding response respectively.


Issues of non-participation/ withdrawal are associated with rules relating to the interpretation of the duty to cooperate. For CCAMLR as other RFMOs, “participation or exit rule”  constrain individual discretion to operate outside the framework of the CCAMLR. By contrast, when without similar rule, the IWC faces challenges due to states’ withdrawal

, e.g., Japan’s withdrawal (2018).


Opt-out procedures are distinct from withdrawal. Its existence constitutes the main inducement to attract new memberships. More significant, excluding the exemption effect to an objector itself, it can have other consequences as well, e.g., delaying the effect of measures for other members. Thus, it constitutes a procedural step in adopting decisions.  In terms of their practice, this article argues that both the performances of CCAMLR  and IWC  are unsatisfactory.


Yu LONG is currently a PhD Candidate at KoGuan Law School of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), where his research seeks to discuss issues regarding the exercise of authority by international organisations in the context of the law of the sea. He completed his LLM in Public International Law, with a specialization in the law of the sea. His research straddles the fields of law of the sea, polar law, and deep seabed mining. He had co-written two book chapters regarding the protection of the Arctic marine environment and the governance of Arctic shipping respectively.

Leilei Zou, professor at Shanghai Ocean University, China.

Research interests are marine policies and laws, with polar living resources conservation as the research priority. Recent published paper is  “Implications of Pollock Resources Management at Bering Sea to Central Arctic Ocean Fisheries Management”. Her recent published book is “Arctic Fisheries, Arctic Fisheries Management and China’s Response”. Prof Zou worked as the fisheries policy analyst at OECD in 2012-2013. She also worked as the researcher at Law School at University of Virginia in 2014-2015. She was invited to be the visiting scholar at Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway in January 2017.

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