|by Shieh Jhy-wey, minister of Taiwan's Government Information Office.
Published August 23, 2007
Proclaiming the determination of Taiwan's 23 million people to take their rightful place in the family of nations, President Chen Shui-bian submitted an application for membership in the United Nations to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on July 19. In response, a U.N. secretariat spokesperson told the press on July 23 that Taiwan's application "could not be received and was, thus, returned" in keeping with "the one-China policy of the United Nations" supposedly enshrined in General Assembly Resolution 2758.
This behavior is shocking, both for its arrogance and its ignorance.
The U.N. Charter and U.N. procedural rules unambiguously stipulate that the secretary-general shall immediately refer membership applications to the Security Council. The Security Council must deliberate the matter and make a recommendation to the General Assembly, whose members are to discuss the matter and vote on it. Therefore, with the aforementioned action, the U.N. secretariat has in effect co-opted the deliberative and decision-making powers of the U.N. member-states.
Equally disturbing is the fact that this action taken by the U.N. chief grossly misconstrues both the nature of Taiwan's membership application and the import of Resolution 2758. Taiwan's application in no way constitutes a challenge to the right of the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to represent China, nor does Resolution 2758 state that Taiwan is a part of China.
Irrespective of the status of Taiwan, the Taiwan Strait is indisputably one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints. Given that China continuously threatens to launch a war of annexation, has deployed a thousand missiles targeted at Taiwan and refuses to talk directly with the democratically elected government in Taipei, it devolves to the United Nations to fulfill its role of international peacekeeper in the region. At the very least, the United Nations should facilitate communications between all parties who have a stake in preserving peace in East Asia before a crisis situation develops.
U.N. organizations and officials must therefore cease allowing themselves to be intimidated by the totalitarian PRC government into making unwise decisions. In particular, they must stop kowtowing to Beijing's claims concerning the status of Taiwan. Taiwan is not a province of the People's Republic of China, nor is Taiwan part of a "divided China" comprised of PRC and ROC segments.
The U.N. Charter mandates membership for all states. Taiwan is indisputably a sovereign state, having for nearly six decades fulfilled all of the criteria for statehood stipulated in the 1933 Montevideo Convention. Unlike the PRC, Taiwan is also a state in which sovereignty rests in the hands of the people, as prescribed by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Therefore, all nations that champion the rule of law, freedom and human rights are morally bound to support the cause of U.N. membership for Taiwan. We will never trade freedom for tyranny.
Shieh Jhy-wey is minister of Taiwan's Government Information Office.