Proclaiming once again 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 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on July 18.
In response, a UN 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” enshrined in General Assembly Resolution 2758. This behavior is shocking, both for its arrogance and its ignorance.
The UN Charter and UN 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. The UN Secretariat, however, has co-opted the UN member states’ deliberative and decision-making powers.
The UN chief’s action is disturbing also because he has grossly misconstrued both the nature of Taiwan’s membership application and the import of Resolution 2758. The 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 the resolution imply that Taiwan is a part of China.
At a great price in suffering over the course of 38 years of martial law, the people of Taiwan have created a vibrant democracy, rated Asia’s freest country by Freedom House in its 700-page Freedom in the World 2006 report.
For this reason, and in order to underline the fact that Taiwan makes no pretense of vying for the right to govern China, President Chen’s application requests “the admission of Taiwan as a member of the United Nations,” not of the “Republic of China.” This follows the well-established precedent of employing names for participation in the UN and other international organizations that are different from domestically used, constitutional names.
Irrespective of the status of Taiwan, the Taiwan Strait is indisputably one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints. Given that China 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 upon the United Nations to fulfill its role of international peacekeeper in the region. At the very least, it should facilitate communications between all parties who have a stake in preserving peace in East Asia before a crisis situation develops.
UN 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 its claim that Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China. Nor is Taiwan part of a “divided China” comprised of PRC and ROC segments.
The UN Charter mandates membership for all states. Taiwan indisputably is 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 people, as prescribed by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Therefore, all nations that champion rule of law, freedom, and human rights are morally bound to support UN membership for Taiwan. We will never trade freedom for tyranny.