The Stone that the Builder Refused: Taiwan and the Failure of the United Nations

As the UN celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Global Compact on Migration, the world must not shy away from recognizing the organization's failures

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(Image from Pixabay user Etereuti)

(Image from Pixabay user Etereuti)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- On Dec. 10 the United Nations (UN) celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, released a statement last week noting that the declaration is “as relevant today as it was when it was adopted 70 years ago,” and that “its precepts are so fundamental that they can be applied to every new dilemma.”

The UN and nations of the world should take this opportunity to reconsider an old dilemma, and to reflect on how the UN organization has failed, and continues to fail, Taiwan's population of 23 million people, along with millions of others actively suffering under oppressive, autocratic regimes.

Let us recall a few of the articles outlined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

These words were written at a time when the world was reeling from one of the most brutal conflicts, and the greatest loss of human life ever to occur. The Charter of the UN, as well as the Declaration were intended to ensure such catastrophic loss of human life would not occur again.

However, by consorting with, and even acting at the behest of tyrants, the UN is now complicit in steering the world once again towards instability and conflict.

Negligence and Dereliction of Duty

Recently, after being denied membership to the World Health Organization, which jeopardizes the health and livelihood of Taiwanese people, the country's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu stated that the UN was violating “the principle of universality upon which the UN was founded and deprives Taiwan as well as the international community of opportunities to work together for the common good.”

By neglecting the health of Taiwan’s 23 million citizens, the UN is contravening its own stated goals of making the organization relevant to all people, and is also failing to act in a manner commensurate with its own expectations for “global leadership.” The organization continues to ignore what Taiwan can offer, says Wu.

Only the most ill-informed, ahistorical or imperialist of perspectives would defend the notion that Taiwan is not an independent nation. The issue of competing territorial claims between the governments in Beijing and Taipei can not change the reality that Taiwan, by whatever name one chooses to call it, is a functioning, and economically successful sovereign country.

In historical view, the UN is not the only actor that contributed to their failure in regards to Taiwan. To give credit where credit is due, the U.S. President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger can certainly take some credit for Taiwan’s isolation after 1971.


Representatives of Taiwan's government being expelled from the United Nations Oct. 25, 1971 (United Nations archive photo)

Despite historical mistakes, the UN has unfortunately shown itself over the course of decades, to be held captive by economic and political interests of the powerful, and therefore to be at odds with its very own founding Charter.

Betraying Global Public Trust and Founding Principles of the UN Charter

Article One of the UN Charter.

The UN has displayed an utter disregard for its own principles in the case of Taiwan.

Despite Taiwan's successful democratization, the UN consistently fails to extend respect and dignity to the country, barring her citizens and professionals from international events and conferences at the behest of Beijing, which must lead one to wonder if the UN has any genuine respect for democratic government.

Whatever the case may be, the UN has certainly not acted in a spirit of brotherhood towards the people of Taiwan, nor towards those already suffering under the boot of the Chinese Communist Party, in Tibet, Xinjiang, even Hong Kong and democratic activists within China’s heartland.


A photo taken inside a concentration camp in Hotan, Xinjiang (Photo from Twitter user @uyghur_nur)

Quite contrary to the idea that “all people are entitled to the rights and freedoms of the declaration without distinction,” the subdued and bewildered leaders of the world, under the UN yoke of legitimacy, continue to treat with the Chinese Communist Party as though the CCP is not actively contravening a majority of the 30 articles listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Even if the UN found the willpower to act in defense of what is just and right, and made a motion to expel the wolves in their midst, they are incapable of doing so. This is because the UN remains constrained from its self-assumed duties by the exact same powerful nations from which it secures funding and maintains its own sustenance.

The UN is only able to dictate, declare, and demand obeisance from the people of the world, presenting a veneer of authority to the smaller member nations, while utterly incapable of acting without the support and consent of the powerful.

The UN as it exists today, appears both unable and unwilling to meaningfully act to protect the rights and freedoms of people, who are at this very moment suffering under imperialistic and monstrous regimes. Taiwan fortunately remains beyond the grip of such a regime. For now.

Given the obvious retreat the UN has made from its founding mission, the United Nations organization is guilty of the following offenses; negligence and dereliction of duty; as well as the betrayal of global public trust and its founding principles, in its continued appeasement of imperialist powers.

Admonishment and Advice

The preamble of the UN Declaration of Human Rights reads:

If the UN is truly committed to serving the people of the world in a manner consistent with the aims articulated in the declaration, then it is due for some very serious self-reflection and atonement.

The UN must ask itself how a government such as the People's Republic of China can be honored with a place at the permanent Security Council.

As barbarous as the CCP have shown themselves to be, with their disregard for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, along with a host of other freedoms the declaration expressly declares to be every individual's right, how can the United Nations, or the leadership of any member nation for that matter, still believe that the government in Beijing is worthy of the honors, dignity, and brotherhood which are denied the genuinely democratic republic that stands in Taiwan.


Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping addresses the United Nations (Associated Press Photo)

A failure rooted in historical mistakes is one thing, but the paradoxical arrangement that persists at the United Nations today is a disgrace to the UN Charter, as well as the Declaration of Human Rights. As China girds for war with Taiwan and potentially other nations, the impotence and hollow declarations of the United Nations are only reflected brighter for all the world to see.

Leaders of nations across the world must ask themselves, what has the UN done to address this brewing conflict or the human rights abuses of the Chinese regime?

The UN Global Compact on Human Migration

On the same day that the UN celebrated its 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights they also prepared to usher in a new Global Compact on Human Migration in Marrakesh, Morocco. Despite its benevolent sounding title and ostensible intentions, this agreement is causing controversy across the European continent which is already reeling from the impact of unchecked migration from Africa and the Middle East.

The compact, which is technically non-binding, will still serve as a framework and reference for nations adopting new laws and regulations on migration. There are concerns among nations in Europe, and across the world, that this compact could induce even more migration to the continent, and that it may even encourage the criminalization of media and reporting that is critical of migrants or immigration policies.

The world must ask itself, who at the UN would have the audacity to throw gasoline on the flames of populist movements brewing in Europe at this juncture? And what do they expect to come of a pact that compels European nations to give more than they already have?

From the perspective of someone who loves their nation and wants their nation's cultural identity protected and preserved, whether one calls them a nationalist or a patriot, the actions of the UN with regard to the UN Compact on Human Migration, are yet more indication that the organization is not genuinely concerned with protecting the integrity, the autonomy, or the sovereignty of established nation-states.

It is therefore very unlikely that the UN will ever support the recognition of an independent and sovereign Taiwan. By evidence of its recent policies, the UN seems much more inclined to favor the integration of nation-states under centralized authorities, rather than support the birth of new nations, or accept new declarations of autonomy made by older ones.

League of Nations 2.0

It has been said in recent years that the world is in the earliest stages of a paradigm shift. It is far past time that the people, and the government of Taiwan, whether it be KMT or DPP, recognize this as well.

The UN has shown that it is either disinterested, or lacking in the ability and willpower to meaningfully address the security, health, and concerns of 23 million people in Taiwan. By most metrics, Taiwan is one of the most prosperous, democratic, and civil societies on the planet, and yet the organization which claims to be a protector of human rights and freedom for peoples of all nations consistently rebuffs the beacon of democracy which Taiwan has become.

Taiwan has established the safe, civil, free and democratic society it possesses today, without the slightest bit of material support from the UN. Indeed, Taiwan has succeeded in almost every measurable way, despite the obstacles which the People's Republic of China, and the UN acting on their behalf, have placed in the way of Taiwan's activity on the world stage.

It is self-evident that Taiwan has become a model society that embodies the very values and commitment to human rights, which the UN claims as its own pedigree.

The fact that such an ambitious project in nation building has been successful, and it is still rejected by the collectively appointed global arbiter of nation-hood, is not only unfortunate. It is indefensible.

This is a glaring sign that the UN has become hollowed of its noble vision, and utterly diminished in its commitment to justice and human rights.

As long as the UN continues to act against the interests of freedom-loving, sovereign nations, the world can expect it will end up much like its predecessor. A League of Nations 2.0, with a similar footnote in the history books.


United Nations Assembly Hall (United Nations Photo)

A New Cornerstone

With the UN as an example of the failings and corruptibility of the old global order, Taiwan must re-consider its posture of obeisance and pandering to this organization.

If the UN truly remains the same virtuous and inspired organization it was determined to be all those decades ago, it should be the one to come knocking on Taiwan's door, not the other way around.

It would do the Taiwanese people well to remember that nations are created and given life by the people themselves, a genuine nation can not be, and never has been, legitimized or determined by external diktat.

If the will of a people is to be respected as the heart and driving force of any nation, then the UN has hardly proven itself as a worthy and responsible leader of an alliance thereof.

At the start of a new global paradigm, Taiwan has an opportunity to transform its solitude into a strength, to serve as a beacon for the rest of the world that remains mired in the malaise of the post-Soviet neo-liberal order.

By positing a genuine respect for human rights, a commitment to democratic principles, and by safeguarding and emboldening its own civil society, the nations of the world can learn much from the example of Taiwan.

Until the UN can rouse itself from its debilitating inertia, and rediscover its instinct for what is right and what is just, attempts at membership in such an organization will surely cost Taiwan more than it will provide.

There is nothing to be gained from an organization that consistently shows itself to be at odds with concepts like justice, self-determination, and democratic governance.

Taiwan is better off focusing its efforts on nation-building, self-enrichment, and by pursuing alliances in the classic sense, with other nations across the Indo-Pacific in accordance with the New Southbound Policy. Likewise, consistent good faith effort should be made towards strengthening relations with the United States, the Commonwealth nations, India, Japan, and South Korea, which all respect democracy and self-determination.

Regardless of UN diktat or protocol, it is these nations who recognize the stabilizing effect of having a democratically inclined state administering Taiwan, and they are all slowly coming to the realization that is in their own interests to serve as allies to such a nation.

In her statement on the anniversary of the declaration, the UN High Commissioner on Human rights included the following statement.

“We all need to stand up more energetically for the rights (the declaration) showed us everyone should have – not just ourselves, but all our fellow human beings – and which we are at constant risk of eroding through our own, and our leaders’ forgetfulness, neglect or wanton disregard.”

Perhaps someday soon UN high officials, as well as leaders of the world's nations, might reconsider Taiwan, and heed the words of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights.

Forgetfulness, neglect, and wanton disregard. Indeed.


Taipei (Photo by Unsplash user Thomas Tucker)