Friday, May 11, 2007

Chen Shui-bian letter on WHO in WaPo

President Chen of Taiwan discusses the WHO entry issue in a letter in the Washington Post today:

It is improper and unprecedented for an international humanitarian organization to enter into a secret pact with one of its member states, especially an authoritarian one. More important, the memorandum has been used to obstruct Taiwan's participation in WHO activities. Our representatives were unable to attend the majority of conferences they sought admission to last year. The WHO secretariat has effectively jeopardized the health of people in Taiwan and other countries.

For a decade, we have striven relentlessly to participate in the WHO, to no avail. Even our humble pursuit of "meaningful participation" has yielded little success. With 95 percent of the Taiwanese people supporting full WHO membership, I must act upon the will of my people as a democratically elected president.

On April 11, I sent a letter to the WHO formally requesting our nation's application for membership under the name "Taiwan." The secretariat responded on April 25, claiming that Taiwan is not a sovereign state and therefore is not eligible for WHO membership. This is legally and morally deplorable.

Article 3 of the Constitution of the World Health Organization stipulates: "Membership in the Organization shall be open to all States," while Article 6 provides that states such as Taiwan that are not members of the United Nations "may apply to become Members and shall be admitted as Members when their application has been approved by a simple majority vote of the Health Assembly." Rule 115 of the WHA Rules of Procedure stipulates that "Applications made by a State for admission to membership . . . shall . . . be addressed to the Director-General and shall be transmitted immediately" to WHO members.

Clearly, the authority to determine whether Taiwan is eligible for admission to the WHO belongs to its members, many of which have diplomatic relations with Taiwan and cannot be co-opted by any individual or administrative office.


Anonymous said...

What Taiwan is finding is that the WHO, no matter how humanitarian or right-thinking at it's inception, is essentially a political body and subject to it's member-countries rules on engagement between nations.
The days of backroom diplomacy seem to be over as the transparency and speed of information goes over the internet.
I salute Mr. Shu-bian's persistence and courage to bring this situation forward, but until the other member nations feel so inclined, I have my doubts that it is a situation with any change on the horizon.

channing said...

Meaningful participation in the WHO is an absolute misfortune for Taiwan, and in this regard I place my blame on whatever political relationships between WHO/China/whomever.

However, with regard to accession, I don't think the Chen/DPP camp gets the point: The point is, they don't want to deal with "Taiwan" participation under any name. It doesn't matter whether they try to apply under the name "ROC" or "Taiwan" or "Our Favorite Non-independent Separate Customs Territory." Applying as Taiwan is just a tiny twist on an old tactic, which may or may not garner deep-green support at home. Or was that the goal to begin with?

阿牛 said...

Sorry I wasn't able to make it to either the Saturday morning or evening meetups. My parents are coming into town next Tuesday and I have a lot to do.