The US will work “diligently” over the next few months to enhance Taiwan’s position within the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), said Michael Lawson, US President Barack Obama’s candidate to be the nation’s envoy to the UN agency.
Lawson pledged his full support for the plan during a hearing at the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations this week.
US Senator John Barrasso reminded Lawson, who is expected to breeze through his confirmation hearing, that the US Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill in June last year to push for Taiwan to be granted observer status at the ICAO.
However, when Taiwan attended the triennial ICAO meeting in October last year, it was invited only as a guest.
“I’d ask if you support Taiwan joining ICAO and if so what’s your strategy to obtain that status?” Barrasso asked.
“I’m absolutely committed to taking whatever steps are within my power to achieve that goal,” Lawson said.
He added that it was US policy to support membership status for Taiwan in any organization in which statehood was not a prerequisite and to support its meaningful participation in organizations in which statehood was a prerequisite.
“Statehood is a prerequisite at the UN and ICAO is an agency of the UN,” Lawson said.
While Taiwan does not have observer status at the UN, it could have observer status on the ICAO council, he added.
“Because of the rules, it may be difficult for Taiwan to obtain observer status at the [ICAO] assembly, but I believe it is possible for Taiwan to obtain observer status at the council level — it depends on the consensus of the council and the assembly,” he said.
Taiwan was only admitted as a guest at the ICAO meeting last year because of an issue “with respect to the consensus,” he said.
“We will work diligently to counter that and make sure that they get observer status,” he said.
“It’s very important. Taiwan’s participation in the global airspace is highly important and it is important that they get access to the information that the committees and bureaus of ICAO have available on a timely basis,” he said.
“So yes, the short answer, we will do all that we can to ensure that they get that,” he said.
“Will you ask other nations to cooperate and support in this?” Barrasso asked.
“Absolutely,” Lawson replied.