Sep 17, 2004

Taiwan: Taking steps toward a UN Seat

Taiwan's 12th bid for UN membership was rejected by a vote of 94 to 21 at the 59th UN General Assembly Session, once again failing to make it onto the Assembly's Agenda
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Taiwan's 12th bid for UN membership was rejected by a vote of 94 to 21 at the 59th UN General Assembly session yesterday, once again failing to make it onto the assembly's agenda. Although the nation still remains outside the world body, its new strategies and tactics were a breakthrough compared with those of the past, and they deserve our praise.

The national title used was an obvious change. In the joint proposal by our 15 diplomatic allies -- entitled "The Question of the Representation of the 23 Million People of Taiwan in the United Nations" -- the nation is called the "Republic of China (Taiwan)" in the first paragraph, but is referred to as "Taiwan" in the rest of the text.

When the nation launched its first UN bid some 12 years ago, the name used was the "Republic of China." In the past few years, this was amended to the "Republic of China on Taiwan." But the change this year, to the "Republic of China (Taiwan)" only in the first paragraph, shows the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has adjusted Taiwan's national title in accordance with the political situation at home and abroad.

President Chen Shui-bian (???) also moved into the frontline this year, holding a video conference with the UN Correspondents' Association (UNCA) to give the world his opinion about Taiwan's 23 million people being blocked from joining the international community.

Breaking with past practice, Chen this year directly attacked UN Resolution 2758, which recognized the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the representative of the people of China. Chen promoted a legal separation of Taiwan and China, saying that "Taiwan is Taiwan, and Taiwan neither can nor will compete for China's right to representation."

The president stressed that Resolution 2758 has been misused to block Taiwan from UN participation, depriving Taiwan's 23 million people of their basic human right to participate in UN activities. He said this not only violates the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights principles, it also mocks the UN's principle of universality for membership.

Noting that both East and West Germany had enjoyed UN membership and that this had not prevented their eventual unification, and that North and South Korea's separate seats in the UN do not stop them from pursuing unification, Chen asked that the international community allow both sides of the Taiwan Strait to be UN members, thus making the UN a platform for cross-strait negotiations.

The Government Information Office also engaged in an international ad campaign publishing ads entitled "UNFAIR," bringing the issue directly to the international community and highlighting the unfairness of the UN's political isolation of Taiwan and its people. Chen also broke the back of China's incessant suppression of Taiwan by his unprecedented conference with international media during which he emphasized Taiwan's appeal to join the UN. These events show that the government's tactics are becoming more layered and flexible.

In a US presidential election year, no one wants to see any major changes, so it is not surprising to once again see Taiwan's bid to enter the UN end in failure. Despite this, the increased visibility and discussion of Taiwan's UN membership in the General Assembly, and recognition regarding the misuse of Resolution 2758 is heartening; it marks a significant step forward on Taiwan's road to UN membership.

Source: TaiPei Times