Monday, December 3, 2007

The Second-Track Diplomacy and Taiwan's UN Bid

To enter the UN in the name of Taiwan is the expectation of many Taiwanese people. According to the poll issued by the Taiwan Think Tank in September, 68.9% of the public supported the UN participation in the name of Taiwan; therefore, it shows that currently promoting Taiwan’s UN bid is the mainstream viewpoint in Taiwan. However, for Taiwan, it is still a long way to go to achieve the dream of entering the UN. Apart from directly applying for entering the UN in the name of Taiwan, we also need to develop some indirect but efficient second-track strategies.

Examining all of Taiwan’s current international resources, the most prominent and important link is the World Trade Organization. With the US’s support, Taiwan became the member of the WTO on 1st January, 2002. The WTO has formed close relations with the UN system as well as many international organizations. Thus, Taiwan can adopt the strategy of “moving from the periphery towards the center.” In other words, Taiwan, as a member of the WTO, should take the advantage of using the WTO to be a platform of expanding its space in the arena of global trade and economy, allowing Taiwan to move gradually towards the UN (the center) from the periphery through international exchanges of economy and trade.

International organizations that have close cooperation with the WTO include some governmental and non-governmental organizations. For example, the followings are international governmental organizations: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO, WCO, IMF, World Bank, UNCTAD, and so on, while IEC and ISO are non-governmental organizations.

Among inter-governmental organizations, the UNCTAD is a good example. In order to assist developing countries to strengthen economy, the UNCTAD and the WTO signed a cooperation agreement to sponsor and to build the International Trade Center (ITC) as an information center and training institution for every country to expand trade. The principal target of the ITC is business industry; Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) is not only listed as an information contact point of International Trade Center and receiving related trade information mailed by ITC periodically, but also invited to attend many events organized by the ITC. The ITC needs to make annual reports to the UNCTAD and the WTO; thus, as a member state of the WTO, Taiwan can use this platform and try to connect with the UNCTAD’s network.

As for international non-governmental organizations, for example, the International Electrotechnical Commission and the International Organization for Standardization are the most important non-governmental organizations regarding international standardization. The WTO’s “The Agreement of Trade Barriers of Technology” encourages members to adopt international standardization as the basis of stipulating technical standards by laws and designing evaluation procedures. Therefore, the two aforementioned organizations work closely with the WTO and provide the WTO with technical assistance and counseling. Nevertheless, due China’s boycott, Taiwan remains excluded from the International Organization for Standardization.


After all, the WTO is the most important international organization that Taiwan was allowed to participate officially after Taiwan retreated from the UN. Until July 2007, the WTO has 151 member states in total. Although it is an economic organization that is not dealing with political issues, the WTO is still regarded as the “Economic United Nations.” The major function of the WTO is to help member states develop bilateral and multi-lateral negotiations and discussions, and the WTO also has the obligation to fulfill its promises. In addition, the WTO offers the opportunity for its member states to develop relationships with or join events organized by various international organizations. Thus, Taiwan has to take advantage of being a WTO member, and actively join the Doha negotiation in accordance with the WTO regulation. Through expanding trade connections and Taiwan’s international space, the international economic community will have deep understanding of the negative impacts created by Taiwan’s exclusion from important international economic and trade organizations. Then, Taiwan can more actively ask for participating in other international organizations or expand networks in economic and foreign affairs.

As such, through this “second-track” platform—the WTO, Taiwan can gradually make efforts in joining other international economic organizations within the UN framework. After Taiwan is officially affiliated with a certain number of international organizations, it would be very possible and natural for Taiwan to become one member in the UN and to achieve the strategy of “moving towards the center from the periphery.”

However, China keeps using the WTO as a platform to suppress Taiwan, and has cooperated with the Secretariat of the WTO to lower Taiwan’s status from the official name of “TPKM” to “Chinese Taipei.” Currently, all the documents and website information issued by the WTO Secretariat have been changed to address Taiwan as “Chinese Taipei.” This may force Taiwan to interact with other international organizations within the WTO network under the name of “Chinese Taipei.” But if we keep using “Chinese Taipei” as an official name to join other international organizations, it will probably become a fixed model for Taiwan to participate in the international community; this will definitely influence Taiwan’s ultimate goal, which is to enter the UN in the name of Taiwan. Therefore, we should make efforts in fighting for our rights in the WTO, or when it comes to interact with other international economic organizations, we should use “Taiwan” to be our official name, instead of trapping ourselves by using the name of “Chinese Taipei.”

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