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United Nations Q& A


1. What is the United Nations?

The United Nations was established just after World War II on October 24, 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security.

The United Nations has six main organs: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the Secretariat and the International Court of Justice.

2. How many member states are in the United Nations?

There are currently 189 member states in the United Nations.

For a full list of the states, please see: http://www.un.org/Overview/unmember.html

3. Does the United Nations provide observer status to non-states?

Yes, the United Nations provides observer status for non-states, inter-governmental organizations and other entities.

(1) Non-Member States maintaining permanent observer missions: Holy See (Vatican) and Switzerland.

(2) Entities and inter-governmental organizations as observers: 

Palestine, Sovereign Military Order of Malta…etc. For the full list of observer members, please see: http://www.un.org/Overview/missions.htm#nperm

4.Why is the Republic of China no longer a member of the United Nations?

On October 25, 1971, the UN General Assembly passed United Nations Resolution 2758 (XXVI) which stated that the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government of China. The resolution replaced the ROC with the PRC as a permanent member of the Security Council in the United Nations. 

Resolution 2758 (XXVI)

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,

Recalling the principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Considering the restoration of the lawful rights of the People's Republic of China is essential both for the protection of the Charter of the United Nations and for the cause that the United Nations must serve under the Charter,

Recognizing that the representatives of the Government of the People's Republic of China are the only lawful representatives of China to the United Nations and that the People's Republic of China is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council,

Decides to restore all its rights to the People's Republic of China and to recognize the representatives of its Government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations, and to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and in all the organizations related to it.

25 October 1971

5. What is the main obstacle to Taiwan joining the United Nations?

There are no legal obstacles to Taiwan's joining the United Nations. There are only political obstacles of which the most prominent is called: China. Taiwan's main problem is that China is a permanent member of the Security Council. All five permanent members (China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation) have veto power over any decision in the Council.

According to the Charter of the United Nations, admission of a new Member needs the recommendation of the Security Council. After the recommendation, a prospective member needs 2/3 of the votes of the General Assembly to be admitted. Today, China would block Taiwan’s admission by vetoing the recommendation. With Taiwan’s limited formal diplomatic relationships with other countries, most members of the General Assembly object to Taiwan’s admission.

Since China is a permanent member of the Security Council with veto power, attempts by Taiwan to join the United Nations at this time will not succeed, no matter what name Taiwan uses.

6. What are the Taiwanese government’s efforts to join the United Nations?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Taiwan has tried different methods in the past decade. From 1993 to 1996, MOFA asked Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the United Nations to propose to the General Assembly to establish a “Special Council” that would investigate Taiwan’s unique situation. The proposal aimed to promote awareness of what is happening on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and the unreasonable situation Resolution 2758 has brought to Taiwan.

From 1997 to 1998, MOFA shifted its approach, and started asking Taiwan’s friends to propose to the General Assembly to review Resolution 2758, to amend the part that expelled Chang Kai-Shek’s representatives and to restore Taiwan’s right to participate in the United Nations and all its organizations. In the year 2000, Taiwan’s friends’ proposal on behalf of MOFA was “to review the ROC on Taiwan’s special international situation in order to ensure and respect the 23 million people of Taiwan’s basic right to join the United Nations.” 

Unfortunately, the Taiwanese government’s application to join the United Nations has been limited to debate within the General Committee of the General Assembly every year.  Every summer, the UN’s General Committee (which sets the annual agenda for the UN General Assembly and in which all permanent members—China included – have a seat) has been unable to put the issue of Taiwan’s participation on the General Assembly’s annual agenda due to the lack of consensus. China never had to veto Taiwan’s participation because China already had blocked Taiwan’s admission even before the issue could be discussed in the General Assembly.  

Opponents of Taiwan’s participation in the United Nations argue that the Taiwan issue is an internal affair of China and reaffirm their support for Resolution 2758.  Member States that have opposed Taiwan’s admission have always outnumbered the proponents.  For the past decade, England, France and Russia, which are also permanent members of the Security Council, have all spoken against Taiwan’s admission. The U.S. has never explicitly opposed or supported Taiwan’s admission during discussions.

6. Can Taiwan join the United Nations as an observer?

There is no specific regulation concerning UN observer status. According to the explanation given by the UN Legal Committee, a country that is already a member of a UN specialized agency or a member of the UN International Court of Justice and is widely recognized by the international community can apply for observer status with the Secretary General. If that country’s status is disputable, the Secretary General will refer the case to the General Assembly.

In this respect, first, Taiwan is not a member of any UN specialized agency and will not become a member if China maintains its opposition.  (China objects to Taiwan’s membership in any of the UN-affiliated organizations). Second, if the Secretary General would refer Taiwan’s application to the General Assembly, China and China’s diplomatic allies will object to Taiwan’s application.

In fact, the issue of Taiwan joining the UN as an observer was raised in discussions in the UN General Committee for the past few years. Again, there has always been lack of consensus on this issue and the issue has never made it to the agenda of the General Assembly.

7. What are FAPA’s efforts in promoting Taiwan’s participation in the United Nations?

Since 1992, FAPA has urged the U.S. Congress to support Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, such as the United Nations, World Health Organization …etc. In October 2000, the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate consecutively passed a resolution (HCR390) in support of Taiwan’s participation in the United Nations and other international organizations.  It was a major step forward and a confidence boost for the 23 million people of Taiwan striving for full membership in international organizations, such as the United Nations.   

FAPA believes that the U.S. Congress holds the key to UN membership for Taiwan. The U.S. is the only country that can stand up against China in the international community. If the U.S. takes the lead, other countries will be more likely to follow. Today, the U.S. State Department, despite the promises it made in the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review to make Taiwan's voice heard when the time is appropriate in international organizations that require statehood, seems unwilling to promote Taiwan's UN membership. Through binding legislation, the U.S. Congress needs to instruct the State Department to more actively promote Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations such as the World Health Organization. Thus Taiwan will get a foot in the door of the United Nations system. This will be the first step on the road of Taiwan's striving to join international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

8. What can you do?

Taiwan’s full membership in the United Nations is a long-term strategy and goal. As long as China has permanent membership in the Security Council and threatens to wield its veto power, Taiwan is very difficult to join the United Nations. Any attempt by Taiwan to join international political organizations (such as the United Nations) is deemed by the present Chinese leadership as an attempt to challenge China’s sovereignty and authority.

However, FAPA strongly believes that it is a campaign that needs to be pushed with patience and realistic viewpoints. FAPA's consistent annual campaign will promote U.S. public awareness of Taiwan’s significant accomplishments, its contributions to the world community and as a sovereign state.  FAPA's resolution H.C.R.390, as passed in October 2000 by both Houses of the U.S. Congress, is a significant victory and confidence boost to Taiwan's UN campaign.

With Taiwan's UN campaign we need to educate the world that Taiwan is not part of China and Taiwan deserves full participation in international organizations just like every other country.

Taiwan should join the United Nations as a new member. FAPA pushes to use the name “Taiwan”. We do not support overturning UN Resolution 2758. In 1971, the U.N. passed Resolution 2758 bringing the People's Republic of China into the UN and expelling the "representatives of Chiang Kai-shek" from the organization. Overturning Resolution 2758 would theoretically expel the PRC from the U.N.  

Please check the FAPA website in the first week of February 2001 for the new WHO bill and ask your Representative and Senators to support this year's resolution.  Letters to the editor and articles placed in your local newspapers are also valuable ways to educate the broader public.  You might also sponsor forums in your community or on local university campuses that reach more American citizens.

Together, we can make Taiwan's membership in the United Nations a reality!

 
Any questions? Please email: home@fapa.org