Mon, Feb 06, 2006 - Page 2 News List

UN freezing Taiwan out of international tobacco conference

CNA , TAIPEI

An international conference on tobacco control is set to open in Geneva tomorrow but Taiwan, which has completed all the relevant legislation and is ready to attend, is being excluded, a senior government official said yesterday.

Perry Shen (申佩璜), director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Department of Treaty and Legal Affairs, urged the UN to accept Taiwan's bid to join the convention by making good on its word that health goes beyond national boundaries.

He said the Legislative Yuan approved a government proposal to join the WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC) on Jan. 14 last year, a legislative procedure that was later ratified by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

The WHO approved the FCTC, which is aimed at reducing tobacco damage to human health, in May 2003 and began accepting contracting parties on Feb. 27 last year. Any country that has completed the legislative procedures to join is supposed to be automatically accepted as a contracting party.

A MOFA spokesman said the UN Secretariat is responsible for accepting deposits from contracting parties looking to join the FCTC, but claimed it has "ignored" Taiwan's intention to make the deposit as the UN does not recognize Taiwan as a country.

MOFA officials said Taiwan has been trying hard to become an observer at the World Health Assembly in a bid to make substantive contributions to the international health community -- anti-smoking campaigns and legislation being part of that effort.

The first conference of the parties to the FCTC will be held between Feb. 2 and Feb. 17 in Geneva, with more than 50 contracting parties and non-governmental organizations participating.

They are scheduled to discuss the establishment of a permanent secretariat, funding and other operational issues.

The FCTC is the WHO's only international convention. After going into force in February last year, it has become the most widely embraced convention in the history of the UN.

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