Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Problems Taiwan faced in the bid for WHO membership

Every year as May approaches, comes the season for the government of Taiwan to launch vigorously its bid to join the World Health Organization (WHO). To be a part of this organisation is not only one of the major diplomatic efforts by the current DPP government; it is also the expectation of the general public in Taiwan.
Since the establishment of the organisation in 1948, the WHO has dedicated itself to pursue the highest health standard for universal human beings, and ultimately set up its funding principal by maintaining it. Through providing health and medical consultation and technical help as well as promoting public awareness regarding all kinds of diseases and general knowledge of hygiene, it has assisted countries throughout the world on elevating the health standard of people. Due to the fact that Taiwan is not a member of the organisation, all levels of access to the international community are blocked whether official or unofficial. Not only has it been impossible for Taiwan’s government officials to join meetings or discussions regarding global health policies, it is frustrating to see that even civil participation in conventions hosted or sponsored by the WHO has met with strong resistance. As a result of this, the island has been denied as a part of the WHO global heath immune system, and without the access to obtain constant information and related techniques, a terrifying hole was created in the global effort to counter bioterrorism and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
In these couple of decades, the tremendous achievement of heath system in Taiwan can easily be witnessed, the government has been actively participating in all kinds of international movements regarding the matter, yet it has been regrettable that since Taiwan does not enjoy the full membership of the WHO, the impact of the Taiwanese society is limited as it has tried hard to extend its arms to every corner of the world. In 1997, in order to safeguarding the welfare of some 23 million strong population, and also to fulfil its obligation as a member of the international community, the government of Taiwan has petitioned for the membership of the WHO. Unfortunately, in the past ten years, China has used every means possible to prevent Taiwan from reaching this goal. In spite of this, the efforts did not just stop there, as Taiwan continued to further this cause through allies in the WHO to file motion that allows Taiwan to speak directly to the assembly, elaborating the concepts and ideals behind this relentless pursuit to the international community. It seemed that along with all the hard works by Taiwan’s government and the tireless lobbying by elected legislators and civic organisations, most WHO membership countries have taken a more positive and understanding stance towards Taiwan’s endeavour.
However, the biggest problem in joining the WHO is the blurred status regarding the national identity of Taiwan. As far as Palestine is concerned, despite the long history of conflict with Israel, its status as a sovereign nation was never questioned. If we look at the case of Taiwan, it is a self-proclaimed “public heath entity,” yet only request to be put on the WHO membership observant list. Such act has caused great damage to the sovereignty of Taiwan, and from the international legal perspective, it does no help in elevating the status of Taiwan internationally, or contributing to the understanding that Taiwan and China are two totally separate political entities. It takes more than the status of an observant to do so.
Therefore, if Taiwan regards itself as an autonomous country, it needs to directly apply for full membership in the WHO, but if this is not the case, then the government should honestly point out the direction to the public as to where do we go from here. We cannot allow the confusion of the realization that Taiwan is independent on the one hand, and then being subjected to the disguise of “one China policy” on the other. The government has to be clear on this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I confirm. I agree with told all above.