Taiwan and International Organizations

Lo Chih-cheng
Associate Professor of Political Science
Soochow University

Taipei Journal, October 10, 2002

The 21st century will be an era of deepening globalization, and transnational issues will become more complex and diverse. These trends make the concrete realization of global governance a necessity. In other words, the resolution of transnational issues (whether it be trade, environmental protection, health, crime prevention, or population) requires the participation of all members of the international community, including international organizations, sovereign states, transnational corporations, non-governmental organizations, professional associations, and individuals.

With a population of 23 million, Taiwan is the world's 19th largest economy and 14th largest trading nation. It is a major supplier of information technology. Taiwan's experience in public health and agricultural and fisheries development is also a valuable resource. However, due to the practicalities of traditional realpolitik, the channels and ways for Taiwan to participate in and contribute to the international community are virtually restricted. Participation for Taiwan has been rejected not only by international political organizations, but also by many professional and functional bodies as well. Excluded from international participation and cooperation, the people of Taiwan are deprived of due rights and benefits. Moreover, such an exclusion is a loss to the world as a whole and presents a serious challenge to the concept of global governance.

Since his inauguration in 2000, President Chen Shui-bian has repeatedly emphasized the importance of such universal values as democracy and human rights in foreign affairs, and Taiwan has actively participated in and contributed to the international community. Democracy puts a premium on civil society in national and global development, and the ideal behind Taiwan's "democracy" diplomacy is to help establish a global civil society in which nations share rights and duties, as well as risks and rewards, based on mutual trust and interdependence. As for human rights as a diplomatic goal, the point is not merely to improve the overall global human rights situation through such concrete measures as foreign aid, but also to ensure that the basic human rights of the people of Taiwan are not denied or infringed.

The trend towards globalization makes participation in the tasks of global governance not only a right but also an obligation of Taiwan. Active participation in international organizations and related activities are the necessary means to realize global governance. The international community cannot afford to ignore any member, especially an important actor like Taiwan, if it hopes to achieve sustainable development. Likewise, Taiwan's survival and development are of course closely tied to global events. Only when Taiwan is able to play an active role on the global stage, and the international community warmly embraces Taiwan in return, can the ideal of global governance in a globalized world be truly fulfilled.