Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 19, 2021
As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, I understand the value of multiple perspectives and the importance of permitting all relevant voices to be heard on the global stage. We certainly don’t always appreciate those voices or agree with the views expressed, but we do not seek to exclude, silence, or suppress.
Unfortunately, Taiwan has been the target of just such efforts by the People’s Republic of China, and I believe the time is right for the nations of the world to stand as one in opposition to efforts to exclude and isolate Taiwan.
The United States is determined in this effort. We enjoy an unshakeable bond with Taiwan – a relationship rooted in shared values and a shared vision for peace, prosperity, and security.
Taiwan is a force for good on the global stage – a vibrant democracy, a dynamic and innovative market economy, a generous humanitarian actor, a responsible actor in the global health community, and a vigorous promoter and defender of human rights.
Taiwan’s successful management of the COVID-19 pandemic is a model for the world, and underscores the importance of transparency, honesty, and genuine scientific cooperation among nations.
In many ways, Taiwan’s exceptional successes are a reflection of its democratic consolidation and commitment to universal rights and values. We need only to look at recent events in Hong Kong to appreciate the importance of such a commitment, and the need for likeminded partners such as Taiwan and the United States to remain resolute in defense of freedom.
Allow me to speak with absolute clarity on this matter: Taiwan’s exclusion from international organizations and international meetings where their experience and accomplishments would be valuable is completely unacceptable.
It is long past time that UN Member States, all UN Member States, to recognize both the many benefits of Taiwan’s meaningful participation, and the damage to international cooperation done by its continued exclusion.
The U.S. position on this matter enjoys universal bipartisan support, and so, even as the United States is preparing for a transition, I can speak with great confidence that the U.S.-Taiwan relationship will continue to grow and strengthen.
I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting with Taiwanese representatives in New York. We have discussed their very reasonable desire to have a voice in relevant UN venues, and I could not be more supportive.
In fact, it is astonishing to me that the global UN membership would continue to tolerate Taiwan’s exclusion from significant participation in the UN’s work – particularly in light of Taiwan’s extraordinary performance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The world pays a high cost for Taiwan’s continued exclusion from international venues, and global health is the most obvious example.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan was demonstrating indisputable global leadership on health matters, including financial and material support for the response to Ebola in west and central Africa and medical cooperation projects across the Pacific region.
Taiwan’s medical and scientific prowess has long been acknowledged across the globe, and yet it is unable to contribute to relevant meetings at the World Health Organization, including the World Health Assembly. It is simply unconscionable that Taiwan’s voice and experience are stifled in such venues.
Because it is excluded from these crucial conversations, Taiwan is also unable to benefit directly from the scientific discourse and the sharing of information that WHO Member States take for granted.
How can responsible nations of the world conclude that 23 million people should be denied information and experience that could benefit their health and wellbeing? Meanwhile, Taiwan continues to cement its well-deserved reputation as a center of learning, sharing, and accomplishment.
There are other important international venues where Taiwan’s expertise is missing and sorely needed. Among those is the International Civil Aviation Organization, which plays a central role in shaping safety and security guidelines for passenger airlines and global air shipping carriers.
Taiwan is a vital aviation hub with important perspectives on the industry, including technological evolution that could further improve safety and efficiency of international air travel.
Unfortunately, Taiwan is not welcome at ICAO, which has the added impact of denying its airports timely access to ICAO information, guidance, and alerts. The real-world implications of this are potentially severe.
Take, for example, ICAO’s 2017 action creating a new safety requirement related to lithium-ion batteries. Despite the fact that a typical year sees some 72 million passengers traveling through Taiwan’s airports, Taiwan had to learn about this important new safety requirement through the media.
It simply defies common sense, until that is, we take note of the fact that ICAO’s Secretary General is a career PRC government official.
At INTERPOL, one Member State – the PRC – consistently blocks Taiwan from engaging with that organization on crucial law enforcement matters. This includes denying Taiwan access to INTERPOL’s database on terrorism, its programs designed to track narcotics, and notices regarding transnational crime syndicates, creating loopholes for international criminals to potentially exploit.
And even at UN headquarters, Taiwan is slighted and rejected. Taiwanese representatives are not able to convene or attend meetings on UN grounds, and anyone holding a Taiwanese passport is barred from entry, even tourists requesting a tour or wishing to visit the gift store.
Even Model UN participants from Taiwan – smart, engaged young women and men eager for knowledge and experience, are unwelcome at the UN’s official events. I find it outrageous and shameful that we would punish young people in such a manner, and particularly in light of their burning desire to contribute to a better future, a brighter future for all.
The United States will continue to advocate forcefully for an appropriate role for Taiwan on the global stage. We will continue to expand our rich relationship. And we will continue to look for opportunities for Taiwan to share its expertise on a host of issues, including good governance, entrepreneurship, women’s empowerment, cybersecurity, and more.
As my posting at the UN comes to a close, my mission will not be complete until the people of Taiwan have a voice.