|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
2nd & 3rd Meetings (AM & PM)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS WORK PROGRAMME FOR SIXTY-SECOND SESSION,
REJECTS BID TO INCLUDE AGENDA ITEM ON TAIWAN
The General Assembly today adopted a 163-item work programme for its sixty-second session, following a lengthy debate culminating in the decision to reject a bid to include an agenda item on Taiwan’s membership in the world body.
With 140 speakers taking the floor during a day-long meeting, delegations overwhelmingly agreed that Taiwan’s latest application to join the United Nations was not acceptable for legal reasons linked to General Assembly resolution 2758 (1971) that gave China’s seat in the Assembly to the People’s Republic of China. Most delegations strongly supported the “one China” policy, and stressed that the “ Taiwan question” was an internal affair of China and should, therefore, only be resolved by the Chinese people themselves.
Acting on the recommendations of its General Committee, which held a closed door session to fine tune the agenda yesterday, the Assembly decided to approve the recommendation of the Committee not to include on the agenda an item entitled “urging the Security Council to process Taiwan’s membership application pursuant to rules 59 and 60 of the provisional rules of procedure of the Security Council and Article 4 of the Charter of the United Nations”. This marks the fifteenth consecutive year the Assembly has refused to take up the matter.
The issue, which for years has sparked a similar debate in the 28-member General Committee, moved to the Assembly Hall this year after some delegations said they were concerned that the Committee’s two-year-old decision to curtail the number of interventions in order to save time and money was actually a move to “sweep under the carpet” the substantive views of all Member States on the matter.
Delegations supporting inclusion of the item said that they were “troubled” following Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s decision three weeks ago -- citing resolution 2758 (1971) -- to return as “unreceivable” an application sent by Taiwanese officials calling for consideration of its membership in the United Nations. Several speakers urged the General Committee to reconvene and take up the issue again, saying the Secretariat had “interfered in the process”.
The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said the Secretary-General’s response had been a “direct attack on the Charter”, and that “the Secretariat had crossed a fine line […] taking purely political decisions that were clearly the purview of Member States”. The Charter stated that the Assembly would take decisions on matters of membership based on the recommendations of the Security Council, and that the Secretary-General had been “poorly advised” in returning Taiwan’s application, rather than forwarding it to the Council.
Palau’s representative said it was not up to the Secretary-General to interpret resolutions and precedents, as was the case here. Conceding that there were competing views of the relevance of the Taiwan situation to resolution 2758 (1971), he said that was not the issue under debate today. Every Secretary-General in the history of the United Nations had transmitted letters of application, even when there had been prior rejections, as in the cases of Korea, Nepal, Viet Nam and Israel. “If we do not uphold the rule of law, who will?” he asked, calling on the President to reconvene the General Committee to debate the issue.
China’s representative said that his delegation firmly opposed the inclusion of the item, and supported the General Committee’s recommendation. That decision reflected the common will of a majority of Member States. There was only “one China” in all the world, and Taiwan was a part of it. This was an objective reality that no one could deny and Assembly resolution 2758 (1971) governed the matter. China’s membership in the United Nations certainly included Taiwan, he added.
He said that no sovereign State in the room would allow one of its regions to apply for membership in the Assembly. The 23 million Taiwanese compatriots were a part of the more than 1.3 billion Chinese people. China had always striven to provide benefits for compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and hoped that all would work for a peaceful future together. Unfortunately, Taiwanese authorities continued to press the issue of entry to the United Nations with the ultimate aim of independence. “We will never allow anyone to attempt to separate China,” he declared. He urged delegations not to support Taiwan’s “separatist interests” and abide by the Charter, particularly regarding respect for the sovereignty of States and non-interference in internal affairs of States.
When the Assembly turned to organizational matters, with the adoption of its work programme and agenda (document A/ 62/250), it decided that its current session would recess on Tuesday, 18 December, and close on Monday, 15 September 2008. It also set the meeting schedule for its Main Committees. During the main part of the session, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) will complete its work by Friday, 2 November; the Sixth Committee (Legal) and the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) by Thursday, 15 November; the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) by Thursday, 29 November, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) by Friday, 30 November; and the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) by Friday, 14 December.
Among other things, the Assembly decided to postpone to a later date its consideration of the “Question of the Comorian island of Mayotte, and decided to defer to the sixty-third session the item on “Question of the Malagasy islands of Glorieuses, Juan de Nova, Europa and Bassas da India”, and include it in the draft provisional agenda of that session. The Assembly decided to include in its current agenda an item on “the Celebration of the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
Speaking in support of the General Committee’s decision not to include the question of Taiwan on the General Assembly’s agenda were representatives of Cuba; Venezuela; Cambodia; Mauritania; Colombia; Egypt; Rwanda; Federated States of Micronesia; Myanmar; Russian Federation; Brazil; Timor-Leste; Zimbabwe; Tajikistan; Azerbaijan; Gabon; Cyprus; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Guinea; Belarus; Argentina; Sri Lanka; Mexico; Morocco; Greece; United Republic of Tanzania; Tunisia; Malaysia; Serbia; Central African Republic; Trinidad and Tobago; Djibouti; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Syria; South Africa; Yemen; Congo; Philippines; Montenegro; Uruguay; Republic of Moldova; Bolivia; Cameroon; Iran; Kazakhstan; Croatia; Algeria; Kyrgyzstan; Mozambique; Kuwait; Nepal; Peru; Burundi; Spain; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Côte d’Ivoire; Mauritius; Senegal; Chile; Indonesia; Tonga; Angola; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Papua New Guinea; Ukraine; Sierra Leone; Comoros; Uzbekistan and Romania.
Also voicing support for the Committee’s decision were representatives of Togo; Jamaica; Barbados; Somalia; Niger; Sudan; Eritrea; Antigua and Barbuda; Bangladesh; United Kingdom; France; Italy; Albania; Namibia; Ecuador; Malta; Lebanon; Madagascar; Mongolia; India; Republic of Korea; Suriname; Libya; Benin; Turkmenistan; Lithuania; Cape Verde; Afghanistan; Bhutan; Luxembourg; Maldives; Lesotho; Dominica; Iceland; Nigeria; Pakistan; Austria; Ireland; Denmark; Portugal; Poland; Fiji; Finland; Ghana; Switzerland; Uganda; Armenia; Turkey; Hungary; Germany; Belgium; Slovenia; Netherlands; Botswana; Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Speaking against the General Committee’s decision were representatives of the Gambia; Burkina Faso; Paraguay; Tuvalu; Marshall Islands; Swaziland; Sao Tome and Principe; Saint Kitts and Nevis; El Salvador and Saint Lucia.
Among the speakers requesting that the General Committee reconvene to fully debate item 165 on the question of Taiwan were the representatives of Solomon Islands and Belize.
The Assembly will meet again on Tuesday, 25 September, to begin its general debate.
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