Alexa

Yao's Speech Helps Taiwan Knock on WHO Door

Yao's Speech Helps Taiwan Knock on WHO Door

Examination Yuan president and prominent human rights lawyer Yao Jia-wen attended a meeting of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations on March 29th representing Taiwan’s chapter of Liberal International (LI). He made a two-minute speech as part of issues concerning human rights in Taiwan and Cuba. Part of the speech was to seek international support for Taiwan’s inclusion in the World Health Organization (WHO).
Before the meeting ended, the Chinese representative exercised his right to rebuttal that was disallowed by the chairman of the proceedings as being out of order. But that evening after the meeting, the Chinese representative immediately filed a protest, stating that he felt the Human Rights Council was not the proper venue to discuss which nations should be allowed to participate in the WHO. Furthermore, he contended Yao Jia-wen was not a suitable spokesman regarding the issue. The Human Rights Council Chairman and permanent UN delegate Luis Alfonso de Alba from Mexico and the secretariat later apologized but also stated that Yao Jia-wen’s comments had been stricken from the record.
Yao Jia-wen was the highest-ranking government officials from Taiwan since 1971 to take part in a UN meeting. As both an important Taiwan government official and a member of a UN human rights organization, his attendance in March was nonetheless was kept low-key as to avoid any politicization. Nevertheless, in the end China found pretext to vehemently protest his attendance.
In an interview published in Taiwan, Yao said he was unable to understand China’s vehement reaction, saying the issue was not as serious as China was making it out to be. Nor was it a “calculated plan” on Taiwan’s part as some outsiders were saying.
“In 1994, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was invited to join LI as a formal member. We were invited to attend this year’s fourth meeting of the UN Human Rights Council. LI had ten representative members attending, but was forced to replace its original spokesman two days before the scheduled meeting and asked our representative if he was willing to fill in.” Yao told gathered reporters while showing them the invitation letter.
“LI proposed a number of issues and finally decided to allow a report on human rights issues in Taiwan and Cuba. One person was given three minutes to speak and I was chosen to take the podium. The content of which had already been given to council members in a written statement before the meeting began. I had to have what I was going to say approved beforehand, so how could there have been any improvisation as some have claimed?”
LI has over forty member states, with China being one of them. Taiwan was able to take part in the proceedings based on the DPP’s credentials as a member. Yao’s low-key trip was in the capacity as an LI member and his speech was at the behest of LI; he was not taking part as a Taiwan governmental official.
The following is a summary of the text of Yao’s speech given at the meeting:
The last few years, the experiences of SARS, Tsunami, and Indonesian earthquake and flood, Taiwan has proved its abilities to the prevention and the control of diseases and has provided humanitarian aids to those in need. Taiwan is the hub of the world, however, a serious gap is created as Taiwan continuously being excluded from the world health network. This will not only affect the wellbeings of people in Taiwan but the world community. 23 million people of Taiwan are willing to assist and strengthen the highest principle of the “health for all.” Only the participation of Taiwan at the WHO will complete this goal. To this end, Liberal International calls for the members of the UN to support Taiwan to join the WHO for the benefit of all.
“Germs know no borders, so we cannot allow first-class health care to be kept from nations just because they are not member states of the WHO. The right to health is a basic human right, and this should have nothing to do with politics. I would hope that delegates here today would object to Chinese officials’ insistence to refer to Taiwan as a province of China during proceedings and refute their assumption that the UN Human Rights Council is not a suitable venue to discuss the issue of WHO membership.”