Fri, Sep 19, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Swiss court says Taiwan can sue ISO

SOVEREIGN NATION The Geneva court has confirmed that Taiwan possesses all the elements of statehood, and can therefore sue the ISO to correct its designation


A court in Geneva has confirmed Taiwan’s eligibility to sue the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for referring to Taiwan as part of China, a Taiwanese official posted in Switzerland said on Wednesday.

In a verdict delivered on Tuesday to the Geneva bureau of Taiwan’s representative office in Switzerland, the Geneva First Instance Court ruled that the Republic of China (Taiwan) is an eligible plaintiff in the case on the grounds that it possesses all the elements of statehood and that its government holds and effectively exercises sovereignty over its territory, bureau chief Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) said.

The verdict also stated that whether the country is a member of the UN and whether it has diplomatic relations with Switzerland are of no relevance to the case, Shen said.

“The ruling carries not only legal significance but also diplomatic significance,” Shen said.

In July last year, Taiwan filed a lawsuit with the court against the ISO, demanding that the organization correct Taiwan’s designation from “Taiwan Province, China” to “Republic of China (Taiwan)” in the ISO 3166 country codes list.

Taiwan filed the lawsuit after the ISO failed to respond positively to Taiwan’s repeated requests over the name issue.

The ISO has argued that the 3166 list was created in 1974 in accordance with the UN’s practice of referring to Taiwan as “Taiwan Province, China” and that the term was not coined by the ISO.

In an attempt to block Taiwan’s legal action, the ISO challenged Taiwan’s legal eligibility as a plaintiff during court hearings held in November last year and February this year.

Henri-Philippe Sambuc, the lawyer representing Taiwan, expressed confidence on Wednesday that Taiwan stands an 80 percent chance of winning the case now that the court has confirmed the Republic of China’s statehood and legal personality.

Sambuc said as a country, the Republic of China has the right to decide its own name and that he does not see how the court can allow the ISO to refuse to comply with the name chosen by the country.

The ISO spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

The Geneva-based ISO is an international standard-setting body comprised of representatives from various national standards organizations.

Founded on Feb. 23, 1947, the organization promulgates world-wide industrial and commercial standards.

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