onsdag 12. mai 2021

Taiwan must be allowed to join the World Health Organization

Once again this year, various countries will call upon the World Health Organization to allow Taiwan to participate in the annual World Health Assembly, the WHO's decision-making body. Since 2017, Taiwan has been denied participation due to interference by China, which argues that Taiwan is part of its territory.

Now growing numbers of influential countries seek Taiwan's seat at the table. Held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WHA74 will take place from May 25 to June 1. Taiwan has yet to receive an invitation from organizers in Geneva, Switzerland. This year's effort to include Taiwan is particularly important due to the attention the democracy of 23.5 million people has received following its exemplary response to COVID-19, and to the assistance that Taiwan has provided to several countries worldwide, where the response to the health emergency has ranged from suboptimal to downright catastrophic.

For many years, there have been arguments that Taiwan should not be excluded from U.N. specialized organizations like the WHO. They relied largely on abstract concepts -- "what ifs" warning of dangers that blind spots would bring to an interconnected global system.

Events over the past year have made it stark clear that such blind spots are not only dangerous but actually detrimental to global cooperation. In the early weeks of the outbreak in the city of Wuhan, in China's Hubei Province, Taiwanese health authorities were already sounding the alarm: A new disease was rearing its ugly head. Ignored by the WHO, Taiwan nevertheless immediately shifted gears and implemented various measures to prevent the spread of infections.