Mon, Sep 03, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Fight for Taiwan's future at the ICJ

By LloydFan 范盛保

On Aug. 7 the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times sister newspaper) reported that Chen Yi-shen (陳儀深), an associate researcher in the Institute of Modern History at Academia Sinica, considers the pro-localization political camp as consisting of two factions: one regarding Taiwan as already independent and the other regarding Taiwan as not yet independent.

The latter group insists that a declaration of independence and a new national day are both necessary.

But this move would mean pushing an already independent Taiwan back into the womb just to get a better look at its birth. A country's national day does not have to be its independence day.

For example, Australia won independence on Jan. 1, 1901, but its national day is Jan. 26, which marks the day in 1788 when the first governor, Arthur Phillip, landed at Sydney Cove.

Many Taiwanese do not like Double Ten National Day or the name "Republic of China" (ROC), but both are historically significant. In future, we could consider adding a historical memorial day and make that Taiwan's national day.

Those who claim that Taiwan is "already independent" often say that Taiwan is a de facto independent country without de jure independence.

They usually advocate either the idea that Taiwan has been independent ever since the ROC government was ousted from China in 1949, or that the democratization following the lifting of martial law marks the nation's independence, which evolved through self-determination. Both sides agree, however, that Taiwan's sovereignty belongs to the Taiwanese people.

The essence of the controversy is whether de jure independence and membership in international organizations are imperative for a normal state.

What is a country? The requirements according to international law are having a people, a territory, a government and the ability to maintain relations with other nations.

Does Taiwan meet these requirements? Of course. So, the problem isn't within Taiwan, but rather outside of our borders.

China is waging an international war against Taiwan by isolating it under the pretext that Taiwan is not independent.

Taiwan also says that it has not declared de jure independence. Beijing has declared a war of sorts and Taiwan is fighting on the battlefield of China's choice. How can we win? Taiwan should consider abandoning that battleground, although this seems daunting. For Taiwan, the correct line of action is to take our case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Only nations may file a legal action with the ICJ. If we are blocked from filing ourselves, asking the ICJ to issue an advisory opinion should be feasible through our allies.

The ICJ is the highest interpreter of the UN Charter. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Taiwan is not a nation, but we can ask Taiwan's diplomatic allies to request that the court issue an advisory opinion to the 16 UN specialized organizations, since they and the UN are the only bodies that can ask for such an opinion. They could ask the court's opinion of what a "country" is, whether Taiwan is a country, and what reason there is to block Taiwan from participating in the 16 UN specialized organizations.

If the court finds that China's oppression is the only thing preventing Taiwan from participation, Taiwan should file a lawsuit against China for infringing on its rights.

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