The United Nations won’t be complete without Taiwan’s participation and contribution

  • 2023-09-18
  • Andrew H.C. Lee, Representative Taipei Mission in the Republic of Latvia

The 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was commenced in New York on September 5, with the General Debate to be held from September 19 to 26.  The theme for this year’s UNGA is “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability for all.”  It highlights UN awareness that the world is at crossroads and the priority is for all nations to join together and hasten efforts to realize sustainable development.

The world has faced many challenges. Authoritarian expansionism has caused severe humanitarian and economic crises for nations across the globe and threatened the rules-based international order. The war that Russia launched against Ukraine has seriously disrupted regional and global peace in a marked deviation from the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes as codified in the UN Charter. Meanwhile, China’s continued military provocations substantively altered the status quo across the Taiwan Strait and jeopardized peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

Furthermore, collective participation by all nations is required to address climate change, postpandemic recovery, sustainable development, and other transnational issues. For years, Taiwan has been an international force for the good and a responsible member of the global community, willing to work with nations worldwide to contribute its capabilities and experience to achieve sustainable growth and postpandemic recovery across the globe.

Since 1971 when the UN seat of the Republic of China (Taiwan) was replaced by the People’s Republic of China, the UN has been continuously facing a credibility problem by denying Taiwan’s 23 million citizens membership or even observer status, under the Chinese regime’s political suppression and malign behavior.

The UN has long yielded to pressure from China, continuing to erroneously interpret UNGA Resolution 2758 and inappropriately excluding Taiwan from the UN system. Taiwan nationals and journalists are denied access to UN premises to visit, attend meetings and activities, and engage in newsgathering. Taiwan is also unable to participate or make contributions to UN-related meetings, mechanisms, and activities. Taiwan again stresses that UNGA Resolution 2758 has nothing to do with Taiwan and does not authorize the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to represent Taiwan in the UN system. Neither the Republic of China (Taiwan) nor the PRC is subordinate to the other is an indisputable fact and the objective status quo across the Taiwan Strait. Only the democratically elected government of Taiwan can represent the Taiwanese people in the UN system.

The Preamble of the UN Charter, which begins with “We the Peoples,” is a statement of the organization’s determination to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.” Based on the principles of universality and equality, the United Nations must ensure the participation of everyone worldwide, including the people of Taiwan.

However, it is disappointing that UNGA Resolution 2758 (XXVI), adopted in 1971, continues to be misused and misrepresented as equivalent to the so-called “one China principle,” which is unilaterally advocated by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). UNGA Resolution 2758, which has consistently been cited as the basis for the wrongful exclusion of Taiwan from the United Nations, neither takes a position on Taiwan’s status nor bestows upon the PRC the right to represent the people of Taiwan. The resolution does not resolve the issue of Taiwan’s participation in the UN system. It is an undeniable fact that Taiwan and the PRC do not subordinate to each other.

This is also part of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. Only Taiwan’s democratically elected government can represent its 23 million people on the international stage.

The misrepresentation of UNGA Resolution 2758 contradicts the basic principles of the UN Charter and must be rectified. Taiwan is widely known for being a force for the good and a trustworthy, valued and willing partner, greatly contributing to collective efforts to address pressing global issues. The international community would benefit substantially from Taiwan’s participation. We call upon the United Nations to make necessary arrangements for Taiwan to meaningfully participate in its relevant specialized agencies and mechanisms, including the World Health Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Taiwan’s campaign for UN participation is to convey to the international community the aspiration of its 23 million to take part in the UN system, and to demonstrate that Taiwan is ready, willing, and able to work jointly with the international community and contribute to UN agendas and efforts.

In a continuation of previous campaigns, this year Taiwan is making four appeals in its bid for UN participation:

1. The United Nations should take action to address the unjustified exclusion of Taiwan’s 23 million people from the UN system, which stems from the misrepresentation of UN General Assembly Resolution 2758.

2. The United Nations’ discriminatory policy against Taiwan passport holders and journalists must be rectified immediately.

3. The United Nations should actively facilitate peace, stability, and security across the Taiwan Strait and the region.

4. Taiwan should be afforded the right to meaningfully participate in meetings, mechanisms, and activities related to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and make greater contributions.

 The government of Taiwan sincerely urges UN Secretary-General Antόnio Guterres to rectify the UN’s erroneous interpretation of UNGA Resolution 2758, so as to fundamentally resolve the issue of the exclusion of Taiwan’s 23 million people from the UN system and realize the UN vision of “Leave no one behind”.

It’s time for the UN to duly recognize Taiwan as an independent actor in the preservation of global peace and stability and the pursuit of the SDGs and to immediately bring Taiwan into its fold.