Imploring nations to “highlight the imperative of inclusion” in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said last July that “development is not sustainable if it is not fair and inclusive.”
In his address to government leaders at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the UN top official also stressed that “the 2030 Agenda places the goals of inclusion, empowerment and equality, leaving no one behind at the heart of our efforts.”
In fact, the commitment of “leaving on one behind” was also declared by world leaders gathered at the historic UN Summit on September 2015 when they decided on new global SDGs in tackling global challenges – especially on poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, peace and justice.
“As we embark on this great collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind. Recognizing that the dignity of the human person is fundamental, we wish to see the Goals and targets met for all nations and peoples,” they declared in a plan of action entitled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
But while the UN emphasizes the need for “inclusion” and to “leave no one behind,” many find it absurd that Taiwan, a country also vital to realizing the SDGs, is being left out.
“Taiwan, a full-fledged democracy, has made considerable progress in fulfilling the SDGs and has provided assistance to countries in need. Nevertheless, it continues to be barred from participating in related meetings, mechanisms and activities due to political interference,” lamented Dr. Jaushieh Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. “This has seriously undermined the principle of partnership, the foundation of the SDGs, which requires the participation of all countries, stakeholders, and peoples.”
Why is Taiwan being left out and barred from the UN?
“The oft-cited legal basis for excluding Taiwan from the UN is Resolution 2758 (XXVI), adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1971. However, the resolution does not address the issue of Taiwan’s representation in the UN, nor does it state that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC),” Wu explained. “In fact, Taiwan is not, nor has it ever been, part of the PRC. Only Taiwan’s democratically elected government can represent its 23 million people. Unfortunately, the UN continues to misuse and misinterpret the resolution to justify its wrongful exclusion and isolation of Taiwan.”
Yet despite unfair treatment, Taiwan hasn’t faltered in its responsibilities to its people and the international community. Taiwan is willing and ready, Wu assures, to share its success story and contribute more to the collective efforts toward SDGs.
“Taiwan has made great strides in alleviating poverty and achieving zero hunger. Our percentage of low-income households has been reduced to 1.6 percent. Launched in 1993, the National Health Insurance program now covers 99.8 percent of the population. In 2018, our waste recycling rate reached 55.69 percent, our literacy rate 98.8 percent, and our infant mortality rate 4.2 per 1,000. These figures far surpass SDG standards,” Wu pointed out.
Taiwan’s immense contributions to the world in various areas like public health and medicine, education, agriculture, and environmental protection are outstanding.
It has been involved in development assistance and cooperation programs with partner countries in the Pacific, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In 2018 alone, Taiwan conducted development projects in SDG areas of interest in 39 countries, Wu said.
For the Philippines, Taiwan has been steadfast as a helpful neighbor, a true friend to whom many Filipinos owe a debt of gratitude for past donations of rice and assorted relief goods during calamities, fire trucks, ambulances, etc., aside from many medical missions in remote areas – among the invaluable efforts of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines (TECO) led by Representative Michael Peiyung Hsu.
And to showcase its culture and deepen interaction between our two countries in line with the New Southbound Policy (NSP) of which the Philippines is deemed a major partner, as well as introduce Taiwan to the world and broaden participation of Taiwanese youth in international affairs, Taiwan’s International Youth Ambassadors Exchange Program is making headway.
The dynamism and creativity of Taiwan’s young generation showed during a cultural performance at the University of Santo Tomas last August 29 as Taiwanese students promoted their nation’s soft power and people-to-people linkages in pursuit of NSP programs.
For all of Taiwan’s enormous help to the international community, it’s just right to make the world know – ahead of the September 17 opening of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York – how Taiwan can be of tremendous help in achieving UN goals.