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Details for Non-Governmental Organisations


Any Non-Governmental Organisation that expresses an interest in matters covered by the Convention, may be accredited as an observer. Requests for accreditation must be submitted in writing to the Commission 60 days prior to the start of the meeting and the Commission may issue an invitation with respect to such request. Such submissions shall include the standard application form for Non-Governmental Organisations which will be provided by the Secretariat. These applications shall remain available for review by Contracting Governments.

Once a Non-Governmental Organisation has been accredited through the application process above, it will remain accredited until the Commission decides otherwise.

Observers from each Non-Governmental Organisation will be provided with seating in the meeting. However, seating limitations may require that the number of observers from each non-governmental organisation be limited. The Secretariat will notify accredited Non-Governmental Organisations of any seating limitations in advance of the meeting.

The Commission shall levy a registration fee and may define other conditions for the attendance of such observers.


Any Non-Governmental Organisation sending an accredited observer to a meeting of the Commission may nominate a scientifically qualified observer to be present at meetings of the Scientific Committee*. Any such nomination must reach the Executive Secretary not less than 60 days before the start of the meeting in question and must specify the scientific qualifications and relevant experience of the nominee. The Chair of the Scientific Committee shall decide upon the acceptability of any nomination but may reject it only after consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Commission. Observers admitted under this rule shall not participate in discussions but the papers and documents of the Scientific Committee shall be made available to them at the same time as to members of the Committee.

*Meetings of the Scientific Committee as used in these rules include all meetings of subgroups of the Committee, e.g. sub-committees, working groups, workshops, etc.


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.

Observer registration fees

Please note that the Commission charges a fee for the attendance of observers at its meetings.

From 1 January 2023, the Commission has set the fee for accredited non-governmental organisations as follows:

  • £712.00 GBP for the first observer per organisation; and
  • £350.00 GBP for each additional observer.

There will be no charge for interpreters for languages other than French and Spanish but those NGOs wishing to nominate an interpreter must provide clear justification to the Secretariat and information on the qualifications and/or language abilities of the interpreter nominated. Each NGO will normally be restricted to the designation of one interpreter per organisation. 

As usual, simultaneous interpretation into French and Spanish will be provided to all delegates and observers during the meeting.

After your organisation has registered for the meeting, an invoice will be generated by the Secretariat. 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.


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 NGOs that have not previously attended an IWC Annual Meeting must first apply for accreditation and receive an invitation from the Commission via the Secretariat before registering.

At the meeting registration you must bring with you a valid photo ID (eg. passport) before you will be issued with a badge.