House adopts "Taiwan into WHO" resolution

Washington, 10 October 1998

The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling on the Clinton Administration to support Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO).

The resolution, H.CON.RES. 334, won approval by a vote of 418 to 0, one day after its introduction by Gerald B. H. Solomon (R-N.Y.), chairman of the powerful Rules Committee.

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the original sponsor of the resolution, said that the deadly enterovirus epidemic that killed scores of Taiwan children last summer further illustrated the importance of Taiwan's membership in the WHO. "Denying Taiwan the knowledge and expertise of the World Health Organization is a fundamental violation of its human rights," he said.

Mr. Brown added that the House has acted to "advance our effort to help Taiwan people obtain first-rate medical care. The resolution approved today is a good compromise measure, reached with solid bipartisan support."

The full text of the comments made by Congressmen Sherrod Brown, Mr. Gerald Solomon, Mr. Benjamin Gilman (who serves as chairman of the House Committee on International relations), Mr. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Mr. Tom Lantos (D-CA), Mr. Howard Berman (D-CA), and Mr. Danny Davis (D-IL) are given separately.

However, the Resolution contained one glaring inaccuracy: at the insistence of Congressman Doug Bereuter (R-NE), who serves as chair of the Asian and Pacific Subcommittee in the House, a phrase was added at the last minute stating that "...according to the Constitution of the WHO, Taiwan does not fulfill the criteria for membership."

This phrase is factually incorrect: the Constitution of the WHO doesn't say anything about Taiwan. In fact Taiwan fulfills all criteria of a nation state: it has a defined territory, a defined population, which has worked hard to achieve democracy, and a democratically-elected government which is fully capable of entering into international diplomatic relations.

The text of the resolution follows below:


Relating to Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization.

H. CON. RES. 334

  • Whereas good health is a basic right for every citizen of the world and access to the highest standards of health information and services is necessary to help guarantee this right;
  • Whereas direct and unobstructed participation in international health cooperation forums and programs is therefore crucial, especially with today's greater potential for the cross-border spread of various infectious diseases such as AIDS and Hong Kong bird flu through increased trade and travel;
  • Whereas the World Health Organization (WHO) set forth in the first chapter of its charter the objective of attaining the highest possible level of health for all people;
  • Whereas in 1977 the World Health Organization established "Health for all by the year 2000" as its overriding priority and reaffirmed that central vision with the initiation of its `Health For All' renewal process in 1995;
  • Whereas Taiwan's population of 21,000,000 people is larger than that of 3/4 of the member states already in the World Health Organization and shares the noble goals of the organization;
  • Whereas Taiwan's achievements in the field of health are substantial, including one of the highest life expectancy levels in Asia, maternal and infant mortality rates comparable to those of western countries, the eradication of such infectious diseases as cholera, smallpox, and the plague, the first Asian nation to be rid of polio, and the first country in the world to provide children with free hepatitis B vaccinations;
  • Whereas prior to 1972 and its loss of membership in the World Health Organization, Taiwan sent specialists to serve in other member countries on countless health projects and its health experts held key positions in the organization, all to the benefit of the entire Pacific region;
  • Whereas Taiwan is not allowed to participate in any WHO-organized forums and workshops concerning the latest technologies in the diagnosis, monitoring, and control of diseases;
  • Whereas in recent years both the Taiwanese Government and individual Taiwanese experts have expressed a willingness to assist financially or technically in WHO-supported international aid and health activities, but have ultimately been unable to render such assistance;
  • Whereas according to the constitution of the World Health Organization, Taiwan does not fulfill the criteria for membership;
  • Whereas the World Health Organization does allow observers to participate in the activities of the organization; and
  • Whereas in light of all of the benefits that such participation could bring to the state of health not only in Taiwan, but also regionally and globally:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of the Congress that--

  1. Taiwan and its 21,000,000 people should have appropriate and meaningful participation in the World Health Organization; and
  2. it should be United States policy to pursue some initiative in the World Health Organization which will give Taiwan meaningful participation in a manner that is consistent with such organization's requirements.
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