Build­ing in­clu­sive UN with Tai­wan on board

The Korea Times - - OPINION - By Dr. Jaushieh Joseph Wu Dr. Jaushieh Joseph Wu is Tai­wan’s min­is­ter of for­eign af­fairs.

In July, Pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen of the Repub­lic of China (Tai­wan) tran­sited through New York, an icon of diver­sity and free­dom and home to the United Na­tions, as a pre­lude to her state visit to Tai­wan’s diplo­matic al­lies in the Caribbean.

While meet­ing with the per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the U.N. of Tai­wan’s al­lies, Pres­i­dent Tsai re­it­er­ated that Tai­wan’s 23 mil­lion peo­ple have the right to par­tic­i­pate in the U.N. sys­tem. She also em­pha­sized that Tai­wan is com­mit­ted to join­ing hands with global part­ners to help achieve the U.N. Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals (SDGs) to forge the world we want, and the fu­ture we need.

The SDGs form a blue­print for a bet­ter and more sus­tain­able fu­ture, aim­ing to guide the world down a sus­tain­able and re­silient path with “no one left be­hind.”

In the High-Level Po­lit­i­cal Fo­rum on Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment in July, U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res stressed again the press­ing need to ac­cel­er­ate rel­e­vant ac­tions. Like­wise, he called on na­tions to ad­vance the “In­clu­sion Im­per­a­tive” be­cause “devel­op­ment is not sus­tain­able if it is not fair and in­clu­sive.”

The prin­ci­ples of in­clu­sive­ness and leav­ing no one be­hind are key to re­al­iz­ing the SDGs. Tai­wan, a full-fledged democ­racy, has made con­sid­er­able progress in ful­fill­ing the SDGs and has pro­vided as­sis­tance to coun­tries in need.

Nev­er­the­less, it con­tin­ues to be barred from par­tic­i­pat­ing in re­lated meet­ings, mech­a­nisms and ac­tiv­i­ties due to po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence. This has se­ri­ously un­der­mined the prin­ci­ple of part­ner­ship, the foun­da­tion of the SDGs, which re­quires the par­tic­i­pa­tion of all coun­tries, stake­hold­ers, and peo­ples. Tai­wan is will­ing and ready to share its suc­cess story and con­trib­ute fur­ther to the col­lec­tive efforts to achieve the SDGs.

Af­ter many years, Tai­wan has made great strides in al­le­vi­at­ing poverty and achiev­ing zero hunger. Our per­cent­age of low-in­come house­holds has been re­duced to 1.6 per­cent. Launched in 1993, the Na­tional Health In­sur­ance pro­gram now cov­ers 99.8 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion. In 2018, our waste re­cy­cling rate reached 55.69 per­cent, our lit­er­acy rate at 98.8 per­cent, and our in­fant mor­tal­ity rate of 4.2 per 1,000. These fig­ures far sur­pass SDG stan­dards.

The gov­ern­ment of Tai­wan has fur­ther iden­ti­fied six ma­jor ar­eas of in­ter­est with re­spect to the SDGs: smart wa­ter man­age­ment, sus­tain­able en­ergy trans­for­ma­tion, clean air, sus­tain­able ma­te­ri­als man­age­ment and the cir­cu­lar econ­omy, eco­log­i­cal con­ser­va­tion and green net­works, and in­ter­na­tional part­ner­ships. These ar­eas com­ple­ment the main theme of the U.N. High-Level Po­lit­i­cal Fo­rum 2018, the SDGs, and the 5Ps — peo­ple, planet, peace, pros­per­ity, and part­ner­ship — re­ferred to in the 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment.

In re­cent years, Tai­wan has been pro­vid­ing devel­op­ment as­sis­tance to and en­gag­ing in co­op­er­a­tion pro­grams with part­ner coun­tries in the Pa­cific, Asia, Africa, Latin Amer­ica, and the Caribbean.

In 2018 alone, Tai­wan con­ducted devel­op­ment projects in SDG ar­eas of in­ter­est in 39 coun­tries. We will con­tinue to track in­ter­na­tional trends and the needs of part­ner coun­tries to en­sure that all op­er­a­tions are aligned with the SDGs.

Con­sid­er­ing Tai­wan’s ro­bust ex­pe­ri­ence and con­tri­bu­tions, it is ab­surd that the coun­try is barred from shar­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion that could be used to bet­ter co­or­di­nate in­ter­na­tional efforts.

The oft-cited le­gal ba­sis for ex­clud­ing Tai­wan from the U.N. is Res­o­lu­tion 2758 (XXVI), adopted by the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly in 1971. How­ever, the res­o­lu­tion does not ad­dress the is­sue of Tai­wan’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the U.N., nor does it state that Tai­wan is part of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China (PRC).

In fact, Tai­wan is not, nor has it ever been, part of the PRC. Only Tai­wan’s demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ment can rep­re­sent its 23 mil­lion peo­ple. Un­for­tu­nately, the U.N. con­tin­ues to mis­use and mis­in­ter­pret the res­o­lu­tion to jus­tify its wrong­ful ex­clu­sion and iso­la­tion of Tai­wan.

In­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions are cre­ated to meet the com­mon ob­jec­tives of its mem­bers, not to serve the in­ter­ests of just one mem­ber. Ar­ti­cle 100 of the U.N. Char­ter clearly states that “In the per­for­mance of their du­ties the Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral and the staff shall not seek or re­ceive in­struc­tions from any gov­ern­ment or from any other au­thor­ity ex­ter­nal to the Or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Re­gret­tably, the U.N. sits idly by when­ever China seeks to im­pose its so-called “one China prin­ci­ple” on the U.N. sys­tem. The most re­cent ex­am­ple in­volves dozens of NGOs be­ing de­nied Con­sul­ta­tive Sta­tus by the U.N. Eco­nomic and So­cial Coun­cil sim­ply be­cause a ref­er­ence to Tai­wan in their doc­u­ments con­tra­dicts China’s de­mands.

A truly in­clu­sive U.N. would not leave any­one be­hind. To­day, how­ever, Tai­wan pass­port hold­ers are blocked from en­ter­ing U.N. premises for pub­lic vis­its and meet­ings. Tai­wanese jour­nal­ists and me­dia out­lets are also de­nied ac­cred­i­ta­tion to cover U.N. meet­ings. These prac­tices are un­just and dis­crim­i­na­tory, and con­tra­vene the prin­ci­ple of uni­ver­sal­ity upon which the U.N. was founded. The U.N. should make its ac­tions and words con­gru­ent, and take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to rec­tify its ex­clu­sion­ary prac­tices.

This dire sit­u­a­tion does not, and never will, in­tim­i­date Tai­wan. Tai­wan is ready, will­ing and able to con­trib­ute. If the U.N. con­tin­ues to yield to China’s co­er­cion, re­ject­ing Tai­wan’s par­tic­i­pa­tion, it will only en­cour­age Bei­jing’s cal­lous­ness.

Efforts to ful­fill the pur­pose of achiev­ing in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion in solv­ing in­ter­na­tional prob­lems of an eco­nomic, so­cial, cul­tural, or hu­man­i­tar­ian char­ac­ter, and in pro­mot­ing and en­cour­ag­ing re­spect for hu­man rights and for fun­da­men­tal freedoms for all, as stated in Ar­ti­cle 1 of the U.N. Char­ter, will also be im­paired.

If the host of na­tions is se­ri­ous about pro­mot­ing in­clu­sion and mak­ing devel­op­ment sus­tain­able for all, it should open its doors to Tai­wan.

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