Tue, Jul 15, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Seminar brings students up to speed on UN structure

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Some 40 students yesterday attended a four-day seminar on the UN in what organizers billed as an attempt to enhance young people's understanding of the global body from which Taiwan has been excluded since the early 1970s.

"It's our intention to allow students to further understand the purpose, principles, limitations and achievements of the UN system through this seminar," said Chen Lung-chu (陳隆志), president of the New Century Institute, a non-governmental organization (NGO).

Chen, who is also an advisor to the president, said his organization aspires to enhance the youth's understanding of the UN system through lectures by government officials, scholars and NGO practitioners in the conference.

Chen said the "knowledge gap has been enormous" in terms of the understanding of the UN since the country's isolation from the system over 30 years ago.

A longstanding advocate for Taiwan's attempts to re-enter the UN since its withdrawal in the early 1970s, Chen said the nation's bid "is not a 100m nor a 200m race. It's a marathon."

"It's a tough, uphill battle. It requires a year-round effort, and we are more than willing to start with education," Chen said in the opening ceremony of the inaugural seminar that took place in Tienmu yesterday afternoon.

The seminar drew more than 40 undergraduate and postgraduate university students.

National Youth Commission chairperson Lin Fang-mei (林芳玫), speaking at the opening ceremony, encouraged participants from all areas of studies to enhance their understanding of the UN system in order to equip themselves with a basic knowledge to pave the way for their future participation in international organizations.

International intrigue

* The Republic of China has been attempting to regain entry into the UN since it was expelled in 1971.

* Attempts to gain a foothold in other organizations have been thwarted by Beijing.

* In May, Taiwan failed to gain entry into the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

* It was the country's seventh WHA bid.

"If the top young people in this country fail to have a clear grasp of the UN and its specialized agencies such as the World Health Organization [WHO], it'll be a great loss indeed," Lin said.

Lin then turned to obliquely criticize PFP Legislator Kao Ming-chien (高明見) for his participation in a WHO meeting on global combat against SARS held in Malaysia last month.

Lin said Kao "had no knowledge of how to take part in an international organization, thus triggering such a joke."

Kao's attendance at the SARS conference, based on China's recommendation, sparked a political storm with government officials and various parties accusing each other triggering an international debacle.

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