TCS Daily

The UN Needs Another Member

By David Kopel and Michael Krause - October 10, 2007 12:00 AM

It's time to change the name of the "United Nations." Originally used to identify the anti-Axis coalition of nations in World War II, today's "United Nations" members are rarely united on anything. And as the UN's latest actions against Taiwan's membership application demonstrate, the UN doesn't even live up to its own definition of "nations." And the mechanics of that rejection reveal a growing internal danger at the UN for the United States.

Article 4 of the United Nations Charter states that "Membership in the United Nations is open to all other [non-founding] peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations."

In July, Taiwan applied for membership in the United Nations. By the Charter's standards, Taiwan should have been speedily admitted.

First of all, Taiwan is "peace-loving." It engages in no form of international aggression. And the UN hasn't exactly been strict about the "peace-loving" requirement for membership, since North Korea was admitted in 1991—even though North Korea is still legally in a state of war dating back to its invasion of South Korea. (An armistice was signed in 1953, but there has been no treaty or other act to legally end the war.)

No one seriously claims that Taiwan is unwilling to carry out the obligations of a UN member state; its track record of adhering to international law is strong, and far better than that of many current UN members.

And, obviously, Taiwan is a "nation." The standard international law definition of a "nation" is contained in the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States:

"The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states." Taiwan plainly has all of these, including formal diplomatic relations with 23 other states, and the "capacity" to have relations with every state.

So what's the problem?

Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon claims that Taiwanese membership is "legally impossible." He points to the 1971 General Assembly resolution which took the China seat away from the Chiang Kai-Shek dictatorship, and awarded it to the Mao Tse-Tung dictatorship.

Moon would have a point if Taiwan were seeking to take over the seat currently held by the Chinese Communists, and thus to occupy the permanent Chinese membership in the Security Council.

But General Assembly resolution 2758 says nothing regarding Taiwan's status or its membership in the UN. Instead, it simply declares that "the representatives of the Government of the People's Republic of China are the only lawful representatives of China to the United Nations." Further, the resolution declares the General Assembly's decision "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."

The "representatives of Chiang Kai-Shek" claimed to be the legal rulers not only of Taiwan, but of China, and asserted that Taiwan and China were part of the same nation.

The resolution settles the question of who holds the China seat, but it says nothing about defining the territorial scope of "China." The resolution is silent about whether Taiwan is part of China. (In over three thousand recorded years of Chinese history before Mao started the revolution, you can find only a single period, 17 years in the late 19th century, when a Chinese government even claimed sovereignty over all of Taiwan.)

Likewise, General Assembly resolution 2758 is silent about Tibet, a nation with a long record of independence, which was invaded and conquered by Mao in 1951.

As the delegations of several nations pointed out to the General Assembly in September, Ban Ki-Moon violated the UN's own rules by personally rejecting Taiwan's application, rather than by forwarding it to the Security Council. According to Article 4 of the UN Charter, the Security Council is the body which is supposed to make membership recommendations for a final decision by the General Assembly.

Unfortunately, the United States delegation at the UN failed to speak up regarding Moon's power-grab. His action sets a terrible precedent of letting the Secretary-General get away with arrogating to himself and the Secretariat the authority which belongs to the Security Council. Protecting the powers of the Security Council (where the US has a permanent seat and a veto) from infringements by UN staff is essential in preventing the UN from becoming even more aggressively anti-American than it already is.

In June, a US State Department spokesman told reporters that while the US supports Taiwan's democratic development, "Consistent with our one China policy, we do not support Taiwan's membership in international organizations that require statehood, including the United Nations."

Like Rip Van Winkle, the State Department appears to have missed what's happened in the last couple decades. The "one China policy" dates from the 1971 Shanghai Communiqué, issued by President Richard Nixon and genocidal tyrant Mao Tse-Tung. It states: "The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position."

The document was a diplomatic lie, for in 1971 there were many people in Taiwan who considered Taiwan to be separate from China. They were, however, prevented from voicing their opinions, because the Chiang Kai-Shek police state silenced them, in order to maintain its ridiculous claim to be the legal ruler of China. The Communiqué might have more accurately stated "Both governments on either side of the Taiwan strait claim to hold sovereignty over the territory of the other, and both will ruthlessly persecute any person in their respective countries who says otherwise."

The latter statement is still accurate for China, but in Taiwan, everything has changed. The Chiang regime is long gone, replaced by a vibrant democracy. In 1973, Freedom House rated Taiwan a 6 (with 7 being the worst possible score) for Political Rights, and 5 for Civil Liberties. Now, Taiwan scores a 2 and 1. (Japan, by comparison, gets a 1 and 2.)

China, meanwhile, progressed from 7/7 to 7/6. Mao's genocides are over,and these days the Chinese government outsources mass murder to client states such as Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma, and North Korea.

The Heritage Foundation's 2007 Index of Economic Freedom ranks Taiwan as the 26th freest economy in the world, while China is 119th.

In Taiwan, only a minuscule band of Chiang die-hards claim that the Taipei government is legally sovereign over China. (Although China would be a lot better off if it were governed by Taipei democracy rather than Beijing kleptocracy.)

These days, just 6 percent of Taiwan's people consider themselves "Chinese." There is a rough balance between the large percentage who consider themselves Taiwanese only, and those who consider themselves both Taiwanese and Chinese. By about 8:1, the people of Taiwan reject China's claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, and China's efforts to interfere with Taiwan's self-determination.

The Chinese government, meanwhile, continues to push its campaign to smother Taiwan. In the 1960's, Taiwan had formal relations with more than 60 nations, including the United States, but with the loss of formal relations with Costa Rica earlier this year (which Beijing demanded as a condition of expansion of foreign aid and trade), the number of countries recognizing Taiwan has been reduced to 23.

Earlier this year Beijing pressured the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to downgrade Taiwan's membership in OIE to that of a "non-sovereign member" and to start referring to Taiwan as "Taipei, China." Sort of like referring to Poland as "Warsaw, Russia," since Russia ruled part of Poland for a while.

The American Declaration of Independence affirms the inherent right ofall people to self-determination, and, unlike the Shanghai Communiqué, the Declaration will never be obsolete. It is shameful that the United States does not formally recognize Taiwan diplomatically, putting Taiwan in the same category as the rogue tyrannies of Iran, Cuba and North Korea.

But the United States does have strong "unofficial" relations with Taiwan through the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, and the American Institute in Taiwan, both of which pretend not to be diplomatic offices. As Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo recently noted, the Taiwanese "maintain more than 100 quasi-embassies or 'Trade Offices' in nearly every country in the world. And most of these countries (including the United States) maintain a reciprocal mission in Taiwan's Capital City, Taipei. Why? The reason is obvious: Because they all realize that the totalitarian government of China doesn't really speak for the people of democratic Taiwan."

The bipartisan Congressional Taiwan Caucus has more than 150 members. Like Israel, Taiwan is a lot more popular with Congress and the American people than it is with the State Department.

Taiwan is planning a nation-wide referendum next year on whether to again apply for UN membership, this time under the name "Taiwan." A left-over effect of the Chiang regime is that Taiwan's formal name is still "Republic of China," and the Chinese have been putting enormous pressure on Taiwan not to call itself "Taiwan," so the referendum would be a positive step in Taiwan's defense of its free identity. It would also be consistent with Confucius's advice about the first step for a good government: "It would certainly be to rectify the names . . . If the names are not correct, language is without an object." (Analects 13:3).

President Bush in his second inaugural address told the nations of the world, "When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you." It is well past time for the U.S. to put those words into action and support Taiwan's bid for UN membership.

In the short run, China would use its Security Council veto to defeat the application, but China should at least start paying a diplomatic price for its hostility to Taiwan's right of self-determination. The more countries that support Taiwan's membership, the more that the Chinese government will fear that an invasion of Taiwan would be devastating to China's economic relationship to the rest of the world.

Deterring dictatorships from attacking democracies, and preserving the peace, are, after all, the reason the UN was founded in the first place.

Dave Kopel is Research Director and Mike Krause is a senior fellow at the Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado.


Who really cares???
The UN is broken beyond repair and there is no way to fix it. Time to dump the whole thing and start over.

This real issue is formal recognition of Taiwan.
Who cares?

All who oppose tyranny should care.

A little late to call for the rule of international law
The description of what the Montevideo Convention requires is wrong. Point (c) requires not merely a government but a government in control of the territory it claims (this was to prevent a repitition of Teddy Rooseveldt's "liberation" of Panama whose "government" was offshore as guests of the US navy). This is why it was illegal for the US to recognise Croatia & Bosnia & Hercegovina but they were legally required to recognise Krajina & Republics Sprpska. This of course is the exact opposite of what the war criminal Clinton did - indeed he & the US government were deeply involved in the Krajina Holocaust in which they murdered about 120,000 people merely to destroy the international legal principle now being used.

The destruction of Yugoslavia was based on the legal rule, unkown until that time & contrary to all previous international law, that the regional hegemon, in this case the EU, has the right to determine the existence of its neighbour's sovereignty.

Which therefore debars the US from making any complaint about anything China does in Taiwan or elsewhere. In the same way its genocide in Kosovo on behalf of the Albanian immigrant "kosovars" debars it from any action against any "Californian" ie Mexican immigrant to California who cares to attack any "non-Californian white" (ie all of them).

The difference between the rule of law & thuggery is that the law applies the same to everybody, not merely to be rewritten for the convenience of the big guys.

Who enforces international law?

No. The UN needs to LOSE a member
Nothing the US has tried in the past twenty-five years to shut down the pervasive culture of corruption that the UN houses has worked. Time to close out the US involvement, and send the whole shebang to the EU, or better yet Africa. Let them live in the squalor their policies mandate for their peasants!

The UN, Taiwan, & the Future
The UN really has outlasted its usefulness to most of the world. Policies that permit non-governmental organizations to dictate UN policies, submission to international thugs (& yes, some may call America a thug), and the abysmal failures to properly operate the organization, while permitting corruption on a biblical scale, shows this organization has lost its credibility & effectiveness.

The costs alone have become enormous. Recent treaty plans to enact global taxes on various items, are efforts to provide the corrupt organization with a lucrative funding stream independent of member nation oversight. Once this happens, the UN becomes the de-facto "One World Government" with the ability financially & politically with the despotic states it permits in the membership, to force its will on all. Count on America & Israel being the first they attack to demand control of our laws & everything else they can get their greedy mitts on. (This is not written in specific favor of Israel, its just to point out the obvious).
The UN is out of control & is controlled by one worlders and global socialists looking to establish that one world government. Once in power, the people of the world will learn what real despotism is!

A lot of opportunities for research presented here,
but when it all comes down, Pauled's first commentary is, to put it simply, the truth. The UN sucks, and if it is going to continue the US needs to resign from it.

Tiawan should be recognized, the question is why does anyone care what the U.N. does or does not do. The are not relavant to anything real. Hell, it's time the U.S. and all major world powers pulled out of the U.N. and left it to die on the vine.

Needs one less
Who would expect the UN to stick up for its own definitions when they don't even stick up for the Universal declaration of human rights? The US should get out of this corrupt useless, nay harmful outfit, and let it schrivvel up like ASEAN or other such dysfunctionl gravy trains for diplomats.

Leave Taiwan just like it is...
The compelling reason for sovereignty itself is the self-perpetuation of a state through the mechanisms of its government.

In the current world there does not seem to be much chance that nations will cease to be...because they might be annexed by some one of their neighbors.

As the sovereign portfolio shrinks back into the role of a monopolistic utility and a commodity service provider it seems likely that those tasks will be executed "better faster and cheaper" by smaller entities...and the concept of sovereignty will diminish further.

Will this be accomplished within the next 100 years? Perhaps. Certainly the transition will be completed within 500 years. So somewhere in there.

Can Taiwan hold its own regarding (annexation by) China for another 100-200 more years? Probably. They have done fine for 60 years up to now...and they are stronger today than ever.

Nations compete in the arena of global financial capitalism. And Taiwan got game!

There is no compelling urgency here. Leave Taiwan alone...It simply does not matter...Their status regarding sovereignty is the universal way of the future...They just happened to get there first.

On the one less band wagon!!!!!
UN should be for UNneeded, UNhelpful, UNpeaceful...

The UN does nothing except give dictators and totalitarians a voice where their impoverished nations could not must one through the current media because of their dictatorial and totalitarian governments.

Then it has its tenticles: WHO, IMF and WB that distribute billions in theft extracted money and give it to the worst of the worst dictators and totalitarians.

The end result is that the UN is not for peace or prosperity but for poverty and opression.

The best solution for US and its friends, which isn't going to happen as long as the current REPUBLCRAT-DEMUBLICAN parties control the US, is for the US to withdraw from the UN and the UN leave for greener pastures somewhere else.

Does Taiwan want to be treated as an equal with the USA or Austrailia or...?
Like it or not, there are certain features of sovereignty which make dealing with the international community much easier.

I agree nationalism is on the decline giving way to sovereign individuals.

It seems one step on that path is to start pushing soverignty down to lower levels: breaking up Yugoslavia, Czechslovakia (sp), East Timor, even Quebec wants to go its own way as does Vermont. Why not?

UN matters here
Many nations will recognise Taiwan if the UN does (or indeed if the US does...).
Of course any UNSC resolution to recognise Taiwan and approve them for membership is doomed to failure because of the ChiCom veto (and the Soviet veto, which they may well use if needed).

Taiwan better off not part of UN
And the US for that matter.

Just think, no dues levied by the ULLN (united leftist loving nations).

They're better off without 'em.

in reply to Billott. Preach it!


When we start talking about the sovereignty of individuals seriously then the concept itself is moot.

Nations will probably continue to be sovereign into some perpetuity...but many of the tasks of civil government and the delivery of social services will be "better, faster and cheaper" when the entities involved are downsized.

Nevertheless, we are social players and there will always be groups that manage processes...each with a culture of behavior that produces an outcome.

For its part, Taiwan should not need to become similar to any other nation.

I do not agree that "breaking up" nations into myriad smaller, sovereign states makes much sense. If we need such a smaller entity then we should simply incorporate one...constituted to execute the social tasks we are going for.

Some nations should have weak central governments with limited roles and small budgets. Other sovereign states must tax their citizens heavily and carry the burden of policing the global behavior of their peers.

Otherwise, we would encourage the misbehavior of power hungry opportunists.

Yet, how do we keep the various world class military players from eventually testing the resolve of their rivals?

How is it that a ballplayer always drops his bat when he rushes out to the mound after the pitcher aimed at his chin...?

This is simply because "you just don't do that" matter who you are... even though you could...everyone knows that.

Why shouldn't individuals be sovereign?
Then people can choose to live in any jurisdiction they choose.

Who/what is sovereign in the USA? The governed, which are us?

Sure Taiwan would be better off in some ways, like economically if it doesn't join. But politicians are not only motivated by their lust for power to control their populations, but also by perceived international 'prestige'. They think it gives them prestige by belonging, and showing up at these gravy train talk fests. And of course they don't care about the costs or economics of it all, that would be because they don't pay the costs themselves, but simply tax their citizens whether they like it or not, and if they resist, are prepared to kill them over it. are sovereign...

By personal sovereignty I suppose you mean that you would no longer be living inside a society whereby some "higher authority" has created the structures and maintains the mechanisms of financial economics...currency, Central Banking, Bureau of Customs, Internal Revenue Administration, a legislature and a judiciary.

If you chose to live inside a civilization sustained at the point of the sword of military imperialism, 500 years ago, then you would certainly be subject to that nation's police power.

I know a guy, but not his name, who has lived within the underbrush and under the highway at the border of San Jose and Cupertino for the past 10-12 years. He has his lifestyle down to a science. He seems healthy, does not appear to be particularly medicated, keeps his weight up (a little more fleshy than he was 10 years ago...but still remarkably athletic). Nice looking guy. Probably about 40 years old. Never heard him speak. Never saw him panhandle.


Taiwan U.N. Membership Referendum Opposed by U.S.
Isn't it interesting that one of the key nations blocking Taiwan's membership is the United States?

The government of the USA is established by the consent of the governed. We the people, as individual sovereigns, loaned some of our sovereignty to a federal government and retained the rest of our sovereignty to authorized state and local governments.

To take it up a notch, the Swiss used to allow anyone to live in Switzerland and have a Swiss passport if they paid a flat tax of ~$50,000.

Within the USA, we have the option to move into jurisdictions who want us or into jurisdictions we want to live. I would extend that to a global level. Legal jurisdictions would compete for population. At that point, who is sovereign?

The customer is king.

Please explain
"When we start talking about the sovereignty of individuals seriously then the concept itself is moot."

It's because the US betrayed Taiwan years ago already and recongnized the red china instead, and even gave them a security council seat although they must have know that they would vote against the US most of the time; and still now the US is sucking up to them on on most counts.

Yeah, but it is indeed time for a pullout,
the UN is more out of touch with reality than a Left wingnut professor who lives behind the ivory walls of the university.

It's also usurious toward the United STates, all the while vilifying almost everything we do.

The actual fact of national sovereignty...
If you believe that we "...loaned some of our sovereignty to a federal government..." then you have "bought into" their lies, in that regard.

The US government literally owns our entire ass and holds eminent domain over every single shred of property we might think that we own.

Read Benjamin Franklin on this subject. He is very clear.

If you want to pay Switzerland $50,000 and move over there then you will, indeed, be subject to their particular sovereignty (again over your entire ass) for as long as you remain inside their borders.

A sovereign must be able to protect itself and its estate against all physical intrusion. If the structure of sovereignty is downsized to each individual then the concept fails that test because the social behavior mechanisms to sustain it are disabled. The only possible outcome is anarchy.

What's wrong with anarchy?

We cannot have 6 billion people here if we abandon the mechanisms of civilization.

Civilizations have thrived under 'anarchy'.
Modern civilization has prospered because governments have been tending towards less government (anarchy) rather than more government as demonstrated by USSR and DPRK.

The evidence is clear, less government (tending towards anarchy) means more liberty and prosperity.

Marjon...OK I'll play...
Please define for me your ideal smallest (sovereign) unit of government. And also, if that unit should be the individual as you have argued here, then at what age would an individual achieve such independence regarding his hierarchical subordination to the adults?

If we abandon social hierarchy and the underlying structure of group behavior then on what basis do we engage in cultural transfers? And enforce reasonable behavior so that our indivdual agendas don't engender continuous, violent, disruptive struggles?

Government is the mechanism of civilization?
"We cannot have 6 billion people here if we abandon the mechanisms of civilization."

Individuals are sovereign at the age when they can take care of themselves.

What does government have to do with cultural transfers? Cultural transfers have been occurring for thousands of years, long before organized government.

How was reasonable behavior enforced before government?

just powers
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

It happened before, it can happen again.

Libya and Vietnam on Security Council!
"Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and Viet Nam were elected to become the next five non-permanent members of the Security Council from 1 January 2008. "

Just one more reason to leave.

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