The United Nations’ Millennium Summit in New York, attended by about 150 heads of state and governments earlier this month, pledged to make globalization a positive force for all the people of the world. It published a list of central values for 21st-century international relations. It also admitted Tuvalu, a tiny Pacific state of only 10,000 people, as its 189th member. But there was one glaring injustice amid all the lofty speeches, declarations and actions: the exclusion of Taiwan as a member.
Taiwan’s exclusion is a violation of the U.N. Charter, because Taiwan has satisfied all the membership requirements of Article 4, according to which “membership in the U.N. is open to all other peace-loving states (i.e., other than the Charter members) which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter, and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.”
First, the Republic of China has been a sovereign state since 1912. It has a territory 1,384 times bigger than that of Tuvalu, the U.N.’s newest member, and larger than almost half of the countries in the world; a population of 23 million, larger than the majority of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region; and a government that exercises sovereign control over its territory and residents.
Second, Taiwan is a peace-loving state. It has never initiated an armed attack against another country since its founding. It has pursued a policy of peaceful coexistence even with the hostile People’s Republic of China by virtue of 1991 legislation legally limiting its territory to Taiwan, the Pescadores and two offshore islands, and recognizing the PRC’s legitimate rule over mainland China.
Third, there is no question that Taiwan — the 14th-largest trading state, the United States’ fifth-largest trading partner and Japan’s second-largest export market, and a rich country possessing one of the world’s largest foreign-exchange reserves — is able and willing to carry out U.N. obligations. It has extended foreign aid to many countries, including $300 billion in aid to Kosovo refugees.
Driven out of the U.N. in 1971, Taiwan has tried to gain readmission since 1993, but has failed because of the cold reality of world politics — specifically, obstruction by the PRC. China has taken advantage of the second paragraph of Article 4 of the U.N. Charter, according to which “the admission of any new state to membership in the U.N. will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” The PRC, one of the five permanent Security Council members, considers itself the central government and Taiwan a renegade province, and has threatened to veto Taiwan’s application for membership if it ever reaches the Security Council.
There is no denying that Taiwan’s exclusion from the world body is an egregious injustice.
First, it is a violation of the U.N.’s own charter, as stated above. It is a violation, above all, of the principle of universal representation. It is also contrary to Article 1 of both the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, according to which “every people has the right of self-determination.” The denial by the PRC of the Taiwanese people’s right to freely determine their own future status and the country’s exclusion from the U.N., tolerated by big powers, is one of the greatest human-rights abuses of the past century.
Second, Taiwan’s exclusion is contrary to the single most important purpose of the U.N., namely, the maintenance of international peace and security. For the past decade, Taiwan, first under President Lee Teng-hui and now under President Chen Shui-bian, has denounced the past policy of recovering mainland China by force and striven for peaceful coexistence with the PRC. It is not Taiwan, but the PRC, that has resorted to the use of force, as occurred in 1995 and 1996. Even Lee’s concept of “a special state-to-state relationship with the PRC,” enunciated in July 1999, was not intended to “make trouble,” but was an attempt to protect the Republic of China’s sovereignty, to ensure Taiwan’s identity, equal status and security, and to allow the people of Taiwan to democratically decide their own future, as guaranteed by international covenants, so as to be able to enter into negotiations with China.
Third, the rejection of Taiwan runs counter to all the fundamental values that the recent summit and the Millennium Declaration stand for. Taiwan has, in the past decade, become a truly free and democratic country. It has achieved a political miracle in the context of China’s 5000-year history: the first peaceful transfer of power (from the Nationalist Party to the Democratic Progressive Party) in contrast to China’s totalitarian and authoritarian tradition. The island state has been transformed from a totalitarian/authoritarian state into a political democracy that respects human rights and the Taiwanese identity.
Fourth, the exclusion of Taiwan is tantamount to rejecting a highly valuable player in the age of globalization and interdependence. Taiwan has become a key player in the information-technology age — a leading producer of key silicon chips, liquid crystal displays and computer components on which IBM, Intel and other U.S., European and Japanese high-technology makers heavily depend. It develops cutting-edge industries while trying to protect the environment. It aims at becoming a “Green Silicon Island.”
Fifth, to reject Taiwan is to reject financial and human resources the U.N. desperately needs to achieve its goals of eradicating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, child and maternal mortality, violence, abuses of human rights and other forms of social injustice.
As speeches made at the recent summit and the Millennium Declaration have pointed out, the U.N., in this age of declining governmental resources, must develop strong partnership with the private sector, such as multinational corporations and NGOs, to carry out its agenda. Taiwan has pledged $1 billion for rejoining the U.N. It has the resources, the experts and the will to become a partner and to play a leading role in our increasingly integrated and interdependent world.
The U.N. is moving in a new direction toward its goal of building a more prosperous and just world. Secretary General Kofi Annan has the strong backing of the major powers to execute reforms and carry out the U.N. agenda for the 21st century. In a tough speech before the General Assembly on Sept. 11, Annan called for the strengthening of peacekeeping operations and the enlargement of the Security Council to give it more diversity and to give developing countries a stronger voice. He also called for the removal of the wall — namely, obstruction by a minority exercising veto power over the will of the majority. He wants the U.N. to be in step with the global economy and to be quicker to react to large-scale violations of human rights, even if that means interfering in a nation’s internal affairs.
Let Taiwan, a democratic state, a free-market economy and a global player that respects human rights, join the U.N. It will be a just and legal action and in keeping with the purposes and principles of the world body. It will uphold the U.N. Charter. It will surely help the U.N., under Annan’s leadership, carry out the world body’s 21st-century agenda.
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