Fri, Feb 07, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Protecting the right to determine our future

By Chen Lung-chu 陳隆志

On Dec. 31 last year, the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights passed the third reading in the legislature. This is a step on the way to turning these international covenants into domestic law, and as such it should be encouraged.

However, when ratifying these covenants, the Legislative Yuan attached the following statement: "The United Nations, in practice, only recognizes the right of national self-determination for occupied territories, trust territories and non-self-governing territories.

"The exercise of the right of national self-determination first requires the recognition and support of the United Nations' General Assembly ... The Republic of China has long been a sovereign and independent state, and does not need to exercise the right of national self-determination."

Foreseeing that this attached statement would be harmful to the nation, the DPP's legislative caucus had to put the brakes on the legislation and request a reconsideration.

Clearly the contents of the attached statement are incorrect and unnecessary and will harm Taiwan both internationally and domestically. The principle of national self-determination is not only clearly stated in the UN Charter, but it is also stipulated in the same clear and forceful wording in the first article of each of the two above-mentioned international covenants.

The first clause of that article states, "All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development." The second clause deals with a nation's wealth and resources, the "right of economic self-determination." According to the third clause, each party to the covenant "shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right."

The application of the right of national self-determination is not limited to peoples in colonial territories, and prior recognition by the UN General Assembly or its related organizations is not required.

National self-determination is a collective human right, the right of a people within a territory to build their state, maintain the independence and sovereignty of that state, prevent external pressure and intervention, strive for economic, social and cultural development, and decide their common political future.

Colonial rule, independence and sovereignty are all part of the continuum of national self-determination. A subjected nation relies on the principle of self-determination to obtain independence and sovereignty. Already independent states rely on the same principle to prevent invasion, pressure and intervention by external forces, to protect the completeness of their independence, and to decide their future.

Taiwan is a sovereign and independent state. It's future should be decided by the 23 million Taiwanese. This is an inalienable right and we should maintain and protect our people's right to self-determination.

Chen Lung-chu is chairman of the Taiwan New Century Foundation.

Translated by Perry Svensson

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