Tue, Sep 18, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Admit Taiwan to UN, academic says

`SCANDAL' A former administrator of the UN University in Tokyo has thrown his weight behind Taiwan's UN bid, arguing that the country's exclusion is unconscionable


Taiwan's exclusion from the UN is the biggest and longest-running scandal involving the organization, a renowned Indian academic said yesterday.

In his article on the op-ed page of yesterday's edition of the Times of India, the largest-circulation daily in India, Ramesh Thakur, formerly a senior vice rector of the UN University in Tokyo, said it was unacceptable that Taiwan had been refused membership in the UN, denied observer status and did not figure in the UN's statistical databases.

Taiwan's latest bid for UN membership was submitted on July 19.

Thakur, a professor of political science at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, said in his article, titled Raw deal to Taiwan, that Taiwan satisfies all the normal criteria of a state: It has territory, people and is effectively controlled by a stable government. Yet on July 23, the UN Office of Legal Affairs returned Taiwan's application. Thakur said the UN's decision had little to do with the merits of the application and everything to do with the geopolitics of China -- a permanent member of the Security Council.

"Where does this leave all the fine talk of democracy, human rights and self-determination in Kosovo, East Timor and elsewhere?" Thakur asked.

Taiwan is better credentialed than many UN members, he said, adding that Taiwan's population of 23 million is almost equal to those of Australia and New Zealand combined, and bigger than the populations of scores of UN member states, including East Timor and Kosovo.

Thakur, known internationally as a political scientist and peace advocate, wrote that membership of the UN is supposed to be open to "all peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and are able and willing to carry out these obligations."

"The 51 founding members were the original coalition of the able and willing, but things have come a long way since. Those both able and willing are not able to be members, even as it would appear that the UN has adopted a liberal approach to membership," he said.

Over the years, the desire to have at least one international organization aspiring to universal representation of the full human family trumped all doubts and hesitations, he said, adding that UN membership had almost quadrupled to 192 states. This remarkable growth, however, did not mean membership was a simple matter, he said.

Sometimes disputes arose over who had the right to represent a state, Thakur said. In the case of Cambodia, Western and Southeast Asian countries preferred the claim of the murderous Khmer Rouge to that of the Hun Sen regime, he said.

"Taipei represented China since the inception of the UN until 1971, even as the communists were ruling China. This continued because the Cold War was raging, the West controlled the numbers and called the shots in the UN," Thakur said.

"However, the more things change, the more they remain the same. As China took its rightful place, Taiwan was made to `disappear.' In July, Taiwan's bid for UN membership was unceremoniously rejected," he went on.

Thakur wrote that: "In his impressive campaign for the post of UN secretary-general, Ban Ki Moon made much of the fact that he is from South Korea, which has actually made the transition from poor to high-income and from an authoritarian to a democratic regime."

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