Sep 14, 2007

Taiwan: UN needs to UNite all

A senior official has added to Taiwan's bid for a UN seat with a statement referring to humanity’s ultimate unity and the need for this to be reflected in international institutions

A senior official has added to Taiwan's bid for a UN seat with a statement referring to humanity’s ultimate unity and the need for this to be reflected in international institutions

Below is a statement issued by Shieh Jhy-wey, Minister of the Taiwanese Government Information Office:

We live in a good world, with good people in it.  The human race has shown time and again that a spirit of compassion and love can overcome adversity, fear, injustice and aggression.  Natural disasters, famines, disease, conflict, terrorism and tyranny do their worst, but this indomitable spirit marches on, manifesting itself every day around the globe.

Though we are just seven years into the new millennium, we have already seen humanity meet many tragedies with a great outpouring of support that has saved and transformed countless lives.  Perhaps the most striking example of this came at the close of 2004, when an underwater earthquake caused a tsunami killing people in nations from Indonesia to South Africa.  In the wake of the devastation, the world opened its heart, rushing supplies, medical personnel and financial aid to the region to help people rebuild their lives.  Nearly US$ 7 billion has been pledged by people from every nation and all walks of life to help these nations rebuild.

Almost a year prior to that catastrophe, an earthquake in Iran levelled the city of Bam, causing nearly 80,000 casualties.  Nations across the world - including states not on the best terms with Iran - rushed supplies and search-and-rescue teams to the area, saving countless lives. 

Relatively well-off nations have, in their turn, also been the recipients of humanitarian assistance and spiritual support.  After Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans in the United States in 2005, challenging the ability of the world’s sole superpower to bounce back, charity on a global scale was again the order of the day.

Closer to home, in September 1999, an earthquake devastated central Taiwan, killing over 2000 and doing billions worth of dollars in damage.  Rushing to the scene were rescue teams from all nations.  Relief aid also flowed from around the world to quake victims, and the people of Taiwan have not forgotten.

The government, organizations, and people of Taiwan are always among the first to respond to a disaster.  Showing solidarity with the tsunami victims, Taiwan was the eighth-highest donor of cash and supplies, with over half of Taiwan’s 23 million people making a contribution; volunteers from the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation rushed to Iran to help rebuild schools and distribute donated food, medicine, and supplies; and millions of dollars in cash and goods were donated to the people in the United States by the people of Taiwan, who remember clearly the aid provided to them just a generation ago by the American people.

The human spirit knows not only how to recover, but also how to build.  The continued integration of the states of Europe testifies to this, as people divided by language, culture and historical interpretation have joined together under the banner of the European Union, adopting a single currency and working to integrate on all fronts.

Meanwhile, we have seen freedom spread in the past few years as oppressed people in the Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Lebanon have thrown off the shackles that bound them in the so-called colour revolutions.  As they moved to reify US President Woodrow Wilson’s vision of self-determination, these people’s success depended a great deal on the support offered them by the community of democracies, as does that of all peoples determined to fight for freedom and human rights.

The world faces another challenge today.  Of the nearly 200 countries in the world, Taiwan is the only one denied a seat in the United Nations (UN).  China, which makes unfounded claims to our nation’s territory, has pressured the UN to ignore the tenets of its own Charter, which calls for granting membership to all peace-loving states.  I want to challenge each of you today to support Taiwan’s membership in the UN.  I challenge you to let the human spirit free once more.  I challenge you today to show love for your fellow men and women.  This is not a political act.  It goes beyond party, race, creed and every other distinction.  It is a human act in defence of equality and human dignity.

Not so long ago, on September 12, 2001, a quiet recognition of our inseparability as people defined the spirit I am speaking of.  As the rubble from the World Trade towers continued to burn in the streets of New York City, the French newspaper Le Monde published an editorial entitled simply, “Nous sommes tous Américains,” - “We Are All Americans.”

In seeking UN membership, we are not asking the world for a favour.  We are challenging it to return the spirit of unity embodied in that editorial, to stand behind the oft-quoted principle that we are all created equal, and to realize that we are all in this together.  You, as a reader, have the power to make this happen.  Show your true colours.  The people of Taiwan are counting on you. 

Source: Government Information Office, Taiwan