Sun, Aug 05, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Taipei mulls lawsuit against ISO over use of name


The government could file a lawsuit against the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for its erroneous designation of Taiwan as a province of China, diplomatic sources said on Friday.

The lawsuit plan emerged after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon rejected President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) letter expressing Taiwan's intention to apply for UN membership under the name "Taiwan" on the grounds that Taiwan is part of China.

An increasing number of international organizations and companies have also wrongly identified Taiwan as a province of China in recent years, as they refer to ISO geographic coding standards for the names of countries and their subdivisions, the sources said.

Taiwan has long been negotiating with ISO over the designation issue but has not received any positive response, the sources said, adding that Taipei then felt it had no choice but to consider a legal battle.

ISO officials maintain they did not coin the designation and that they were simply following the UN policy formulated in 1974, known as ISO-3166.

Describing the ISO's use of "Taiwan, China" as an "infringement of Taiwan's name right," diplomatic officials said that courts in Geneva would likely accept the lawsuit, as the ISO is not an official international organization. However the officials said it was not known when the lawsuit would be filed.

The Geneva-based ISO is an international standards-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards bodies. Founded on Feb. 23, 1947, it produces world-wide industrial and commercial standards.

While the ISO defines itself as a non-governmental organization (NGO), its ability to set standards that often become law -- either through treaties or national standards -- makes it more powerful than most NGOs.

In practice, the ISO acts as a consortium with strong links to governments. As of fall last year, it counted 158 members, each of which represents one country.

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