Choose your language:

Details for non-member Governments and Intergovernmental Organisations


Any Government not a party to the Convention (GO) or any intergovernmental organisation (IGO) may be represented at meetings of the Commission by an observer or observers, if such non-party government or intergovernmental organisation has previously attended any meeting of the Commission, or if it submits its request in writing to the Commission 60 days prior to the start of the meeting, or if the Commission issues an invitation to attend.

Observers may attend all meetings of the Commission and any meetings of subsidiary groups of the Commission EXCEPT Commissioners-only meetings.


Representatives of IGOs with particular relevance to the work of the Scientific Committee may participate as non-voting members, subject to the agreement of the Chair of the Committee acting according to such policy as the Commission may decide.

Non-member governments (GOs) may be represented by observers at meetings of the Scientific Committee subject to the arrangements described above for admission to Commission meetings.


Opening statements may be submitted to Annual Meetings of the Commission. The conditions for Opening Statements are as follows:

  1. Opening Statements should be no more than three pages in length, contain no graphics (although use of logos is acceptable) or photographs and be suitable for photocopying in black and white. They may not be in the format of glossy-type brochures or booklets.
  2. The content of Opening Statements shall be relevant to matters under consideration by the Commission, and shall be in the form of views and comments made to the Commission in general rather than directed to any individual or group of Contracting Governments. (There is no intention that the Secretariat should conduct ex-ante reviews of such statements.)
  3. Opening Statements should be submitted as an electronic or good paper copy. Electronic submission on diskette, CD or by email is the preferred option.
  4. Opening Statements must be submitted to the Secretariat no later than 17.00 on the first day of the plenary meeting. The Secretariat will allocate document numbers. The ‘statements’ will be collated and copied together, rather than copying and distributing them individually.
  5. Documents not conforming to these conditions will not be included as Opening Statements in the formal meeting documentation.

Please note that it is no longer possible to submit Opening Statements in the format of glossy-type brochures or booklets. However, as usual, such material may be made available for delegates to collect if they wish from tables provided for this purpose.


Please note that the Commission charges a fee for the attendance of observers at its meetings. From 1 January 2023 it has set the fee for non-member governments at £947.00 for each observer.  The fee for regional integration organisations and international governmental organisations is £947.00 per individual observer. However, please also note that the fee is waived in the case of international governmental organisations with whom IWC has reciprocal arrangements for the exchange of observers.

On receipt of information on your nominated observer and the address of your paying office, we will issue an invoice for payment. Please note that due to increasing transaction charges, the IWC no longer accepts credit card payments. All payments must be made via electronic bank transfer.

Please ensure that your fee is paid in good time.


Proper credentials with original signatures or seals must be forwarded to the Secretariat in advance of or presented at the Annual Meeting as set out in Rule of Procedure D:

D. Credentials

  • 1.(a) The names of all representatives of member and non-member governments and observer organisations to any meeting of the Commission or committees, as specified in the Rules of Procedure of the Commission, Technical and Scientific Committees, shall be notified to the Secretary in writing before their participation and/or attendance at each meeting. For member governments, the notification shall indicate the Commissioner, his/her alternate(s) and advisers, and the head of the national delegation to the Scientific Committee and any alternate(s) as appropriate.
  • The written notification shall be made by governments or the heads of organisations as the case may be. In this context, ‘governments’ means the Head of State, the Head of Government, the Minister of Foreign Affairs (including: on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs), the Minister responsible for whaling or whale conservation (including: on behalf of this Minister), the Head of the Diplomatic Mission accredited to the seat of the Commission or to the host country of the meeting in question, or the Commissioner appointed under Rule A.1.
  • (d) The Secretary, or his/her representative, shall report on the received notifications at the beginning of a meeting.
  • (e) In case of any doubt as to the authenticity of notification or in case of apparent delay in their delivery, the Chair of the meeting shall convene an ad hoc group of no more than one representative from any Contracting Government present to decide upon the question of participation in the meeting.

Fax or email notifications (or photocopies) will not be accepted as the formal credentials, although advance notification by these means is helpful


PLEASE NOTE that non-member Governments (GOs and IGOs) that have not previously attended an IWC meeting must first receive an invitation from the Commission via the Secretariat before registering.