Why the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and UN must em­brace Tai­wan

Tai­wan is a model of democ­racy. It is in­de­pen­dent. It’s not a part of PRC. And it has man­aged Covid-19 suc­cess­fully

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - Comment - JAUSHIEH JOSEPH WU

In 2020, the world has been hit by an un­prece­dented public health cri­sis, with the ef­fects of Covid-19 be­ing felt across ev­ery as­pect of peo­ple’s lives. This year also marks the 75th an­niver­sary of the sign­ing of the Char­ter of the United Na­tions (UN). Now more than ever, the global com­mu­nity must make a con­certed ef­fort to forge the bet­ter and more sus­tain­able fu­ture called for by UN and its mem­ber­states. Tai­wan is ready, will­ing and able to be a part of th­ese ef­forts.

With less than 500 con­firmed cases and seven deaths, Tai­wan has de­fied pre­dic­tions and suc­cess­fully con­tained the pan­demic. This has all come in no small part due to Tai­wan’s quick re­sponse mea­sures, in­clud­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of a Cen­tral Epi­demic Com­mand Cen­tre, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of strin­gent bor­der con­trols and quar­an­tine pro­ce­dures, and trans­par­ent in­for­ma­tion­shar­ing. And af­ter mak­ing sure we had enough sup­plies to look af­ter our peo­ple, we started pro­vid­ing med­i­cal equip­ment and sup­plies to other coun­tries in se­ri­ous need.

By the end of June, Tai­wan had do­nated 51 mil­lion sur­gi­cal masks, 1.16 mil­lion N95 masks, 600,000 iso­la­tion gowns, 35,000 fore­head ther­mome­ters, and other med­i­cal ma­te­rial to more than 80 coun­tries, in­clud­ing In­dia, the United States (US), Tai­wan’s diplo­matic al­lies, and var­i­ous Euro­pean na­tions. We have also joined forces with like-minded democ­ra­cies to ex­plore the de­vel­op­ment of rapid test kits, medicines, and vac­cines. Work­ing to­gether for the greater good is how the world will de­feat Covid-19.

In the Dec­la­ra­tion on the Com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 75th an­niver­sary of UN, gov­ern­ments and heads of States ac­knowl­edged that only by work­ing to­gether in sol­i­dar­ity can we end the pan­demic and ef­fec­tively tackle its con­se­quences. They thus pledged to make UN more in­clu­sive and to leave no one be­hind as the world looks to re­cover from the pan­demic.

Sim­i­larly, in July, UN Sec­re­tary-gen­eral An­tónio Guter­res said that net­worked, in­clu­sive, and ef­fec­tive mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism would aid global ef­forts to pro­mote re­cov­ery and the con­tin­ued im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGS). We could not agree more. How­ever, this vi­sion seems lack­ing when Tai­wan — one of the world’s model democ­ra­cies and a success story in con­tain­ing the cur­rent pan­demic — con­tin­ues to be barred from tak­ing part in and ex­chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and in­for­ma­tion with UN sys­tem. Not hav­ing Tai­wan’s in­put in UN is a loss to the global com­mu­nity, and will ham­per mem­ber-states’ ef­forts to re­gain nor­malcy and im­ple­ment the 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment in full and on time.

Even as the pan­demic has made the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity aware of Tai­wan’s un­just and dis­crim­i­na­tory ex­clu­sion from the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion and the UN sys­tem, the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China (PRC) con­tin­ues to press UN to use an er­ro­neous in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the 1971 UN Gen­eral Assem­bly Resolution 2758 (XXVI) as the le­gal ba­sis for block­ing Tai­wan.

The fact is that this resolution does not ad­dress the is­sue of Tai­wan’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion in UN, nor does it state that Tai­wan is part of PRC. In fact, Tai­wan is not, nor has it ever been, a part of the PRC. Our pres­i­dent and leg­is­la­ture are di­rectly elected by the peo­ple of Tai­wan. More­over, bor­der con­trols in­sti­tuted dur­ing the pan­demic of­fer fur­ther ev­i­dence to counter PRC’S false claims. UN must recog­nise that only Tai­wan’s demo­crat­i­cally-elected gov­ern­ment can rep­re­sent its 23.5 mil­lion peo­ple; PRC has no right to speak on Tai­wan’s be­half.

Un­for­tu­nately, the 23.5 mil­lion peo­ple of Tai­wan are de­nied any ac­cess to UN premises. Tai­wanese jour­nal­ists and me­dia out­lets are also de­nied ac­cred­i­ta­tion to cover UN meet­ings. This dis­crim­i­na­tory pol­icy stems from the wrong­ful claims of and pres­sure from an au­thor­i­tar­ian state, and con­tra­venes the prin­ci­ple of uni­ver­sal­ity and equal­ity upon which UN was founded.

The UN Char­ter be­gins with “We the peo­ples of the United Na­tions de­ter­mined . . . to reaf­firm faith in fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights . . . [and] the equal rights of men and women and of na­tions large and small”. The ideal of up­hold­ing hu­man rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms for all laid out in this text must not re­main empty words. As it looks ahead to the next 75 years, it is never too late for the UN to wel­come Tai­wan’s par­tic­i­pa­tion.

REUTERS

Tai­wan has joined forces with like-minded democ­ra­cies to ex­plore the de­vel­op­ment of rapid test kits and vac­cines

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