The Daily Telegraph
Time for the UN to stop excluding Taiwan
We are keen to help the world recover from Covid, but my country is still being denied its rights
With more than 4 million deaths and counting, the Covid-19 pandemic has raged across the globe. As many countries brace for another spike of the virus, prompted by the highly contagious Delta variant, the world not only looks to the UN’S specialised health agency, the World Health Organisation (WHO), but also to the 76th General Assembly, which began yesterday in New York, to ramp up comprehensive efforts to resolve the crisis, ensure better recovery and rebuild sustainably.
This is a daunting task that requires all hands on deck. It is time for the global body to welcome Taiwan, a valuable and worthy partner that stands ready to lend a helping hand.
Taiwan has been recognised widely as a poster child in the fight against Covid-19. Even when, over the past few months, Taiwan, like many other countries, has been dealing with a surge of Covid-19 cases after almost a year of success in containing the virus, it quickly got a handle on the situation and emerged even more ready to work with allies and partners to tackle the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Taiwan’s effective response to the pandemic, its rapid capacity expansion to meet global supply chain demand and its substantive assistance towards partner countries around the world, all speak to the fact that there are many compelling reasons for Taiwan to play a constructive role in the UN system.
However, under pressure from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Taiwan is not only excluded from participating in the WHO, but also the entire UN system, citing the 1971 UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 (XXVI) as a legal basis for this exclusion. But the language of the resolution is clear: it merely addresses the issue of China’s representation in the UN, there is no mention of any Chinese claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, nor does it authorise the PRC to represent Taiwan in the UN system.
The fact is, the PRC has never governed Taiwan and the Taiwanese people can only be represented on the international stage by their popularly elected government. By falsely equating the language of the resolution with Beijing’s “one China Principle”, the PRC is arbitrarily imposing its political views on the UN.
The absurdity doesn’t end there. This exclusion also obstructs the participation of Taiwan’s civil society. Taiwanese passport holders are denied access to UN premises, both for tours and meetings, while Taiwanese journalists cannot obtain accreditation to cover UN events. The only reason for this discriminatory treatment is their nationality. Barring members of Taiwan’s civil society from the UN defeats the ideal of multilateralism, contravenes the UN’S founding principles of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and hampers the UN’S overall efforts.
For six decades, Taiwan has been providing assistance to partner countries around the world. Since the adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda, it has focused on helping partners achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), and, more recently, engage in anti-pandemic response and postpandemic recovery. At home, Taiwan has fulfilled its SDGS in gender equality, clean water and sanitation, and good health and well-being, among others.
At a time when the world is sounding a clarion call for climate action and to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Taiwan is actively charting a roadmap towards that goal, and has drafted dedicated legislation to facilitate this process. Concerted efforts are a must if we want a sustainable future. Taiwan knows this, and is working on the best ways to turn the challenges of carbon reduction into new opportunities. Although unfortunately Taiwan is deprived of the chance to take part in the upcoming COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, we will still seek every opportunity to exchange experience and ideas on how to cope with this global challenge.
In his oath of office this June, UN secretary general António Guterres stressed that the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed our shared vulnerability and interconnectedness. He said that the UN, and the states and people it serves, can only benefit from bringing others to the table.
Denying partners that have the ability to contribute is a moral and material loss to the world as we seek to recover better together. Taiwan is a force for good. Now is the time to bring Taiwan to the table and let us help.