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    WHO Past Campaign - Information Related to H.R.1794

Congress of the United States
 Washington, DC 20515

January 11, 2000
 

The Honorable Madeleine Albright
U.S. Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C. Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

We are writing in response to the Department of State report on Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization (WHO).

Public Law 106-137 requires the Secretary of State to report on the efforts of the Administration to fulfill the commitment made in the 1994 Taiwan Policy Review to more actively support Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, in particular the World Health Organization (WHO).  Unfortunately, the people of Taiwan have been blocked from participating in the WHO since 1972.  Good health is a right of every citizen of the world, regardless of the political situation, and we strongly support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHO.

Taiwan is not permitted to join the WHO because Article 3 of the organization’s Constitution explicitly requires statehood for membership.  However, the WHO Constitution does not explicitly prohibit Taiwan from obtaining observer status.  Under the annual World Health Assembly’s Rules of Procedure, Taiwan would be granted observer status in the WHO if a majority of the present members approved resolution to do so.

The State Department report states that since there is insufficient support for such a resolution, the Administration will look for “practical” ways to find way for Taiwan to participate in the WHO.  Taiwan is denied participation in the WHO because of the People’s Republic of China’s assertion its neighbor is not a nation and should be denied access to the latest medical protocols.  The fact of the matter is that participation for Taiwan in the World Health Organization poses no threat to Beijing’s security but would enhance the quality of life for its 1.2 billion inhabitants.

 The WHO is a benign organization, working to eradicate and control disease and to improve the health of people around the world.  It has instituted highly effective immunization programs, allowing hundreds of millions of children live better, longer and healthier lives.  The WHO has already helped protect eight out of ten children worldwide from major childhood disease, including measles and tuberculosis, and has worked to reduce the global infant mortality rate by nearly forty percent since 1970.

We should all be deeply distressed by our government’s refusal to support Taiwan’s bid for observer status in the WHO.  Last Congress, the House of Representatives initiated a campaign to right this wrong.  Our efforts culminated in the passage of H. Con. Res. 334 on October 9, 1998 with 418 members supporting participation for Taiwan in the World Health Organization.  There were no abstaining votes.

We believe it is more than appropriate the Administration support Taiwan’s effort to pursue observer status in the WHO.  This issue is one that should unite rather than divide the world community, for the right to good health knows no boundaries.  To help guarantee this basic human right for the people of Taiwan, we urge you to support Taiwan’s upcoming bid to obtain observer status in the World Health Organization.

Sincerely,

Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Chris Cox (R-CA)
Sam Gejdenson (D-CT)
Tom Lantos (D-CA)
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

 
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