Thu, Dec 11, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Self-determination gets support

LEGAL FOUNDATION Speaking at a seminar, international experts said the UN Charter and the reality of the nation's separation from China make self-determination a right

BY Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

International experts said yesterday that various international laws and acts had bestowed Taiwanese people with the right to self-determination and to decide their own future.

Academic Historica and the Preparatory Office of the National Human Rights Museum held a meeting yesterday dubbed the International Human Rights Roundtable: Rights for All, All for Rights."

They invited University of Houston Law Foundation professor Jordan Paust, International League for Human Rights president Scott Horton, senior adviser to the president Peng Ming-min (彭明敏) and presidential adviser Chen Chu-lung (陳志隆) as speakers.

Paust said that Taiwan's right to self-determination has its basis in international law.

"Both human rights and the related precept of self-determination of peoples are enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," Paust said.

Paust also stressed the physical reality of Taiwan's separation from China.

"Taiwan is physically separated from the mainland of China and has a population of some 23 million people who mainly consider themselves to be Taiwanese with their own independent political processes," Paust said.

He also pointed out if China used force to deny a people self-determination and human rights, it would violate the UN Charter and become a threat to international peace and security.

But Paust also joked that self-determination meant Taiwanese people had the right to choose to become oppressed by communists too.

Horton, meanwhile, said the war on terror had taken a toll on international humanitarian law.

"While invoking the mantle of human rights protection to justify its various military campaigns, the Bush administration is doing serious damage to international humanitarian law by asserting that somehow its conduct is always beyond the reach of that law," Horton said, citing the US violation of Geneva Conventions in its treatment of Taliban and al-Qaeda POWs.

"American policy is now captive to this very radical world view filled with fundamental hostility to the system of international humanitarian law," Horton said.

Peng said, "Over the past 400 years, Taiwan has been the subject of dispute over who has the right to the island, but the island itself has never had the right to say anything about itself.

"We want to be at peace with other countries, including China, but it's China that doesn't want to leave us alone," he said.

Peng said that the basic human rights of Taiwanese people, such as the right to elect the nation's president and the right to hold referendums, were all deemed provocative in China's eyes.

"Unfortunately the US government seems to agree with China's stand, and by doing so the US is giving the word `provocative' a new definition," Peng said.

Meanwhile, Chen called China's threat to use military force against Taiwan "a form of state terrorism."

Chen also said China's demands on Taiwan were unreasonable.

"Sovereignty nowadays means not ties to property but to people. China's concept of sovereignty is an outdated 18th or 19th century concept. Sovereignty should mean responsibility and a government that protects the human rights and welfare of the people," Chen said.

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