In advance of the May meeting of the World Health Assembly, the WHA, which is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, the WHO, Secretary of State Antony Blinken strongly advocated for Taiwan to be allowed to participate as an observer “and lend its expertise to the solution-seeking discussions.”
For most of the past 50 years Taiwan participated robustly in certain UN specialized agencies where statehood is not a requirement. Recently, however, its engagement in these fora has been constrained.
In a written statement, Secretary Blinken noted that today’s unprecedented health threats demand close international cooperation. The annual meeting of the World Health Assembly is an opportunity, he said, “to drive cooperation towards ending the acute phase of the COVID 19 pandemic and advancing global health and global health security. . .Inviting Taiwan to attend the WHA as an observer would exemplify the WHO’s commitment to an inclusive approach to international health cooperation and ‘health for all.’”
At a press briefing, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price pointed out that Taiwan’s expertise and approaches in the realm of global health -- and beyond that realm as well -- can benefit the world. He noted that the WHO broke years of precedent at the 70th World Health Assembly in 2017 when it failed to invite a Taiwanese delegation to attend as an observer – a failure that has been maintained every year since then.
“As we continue to battle a pandemic, as we continue to confront other public health threats, Taiwan’s isolation from the world’s preeminent global health forum…itself represents a serious health concern,” Spokesperson Price said. “We believe that [Taiwan’s] significant public health expertise, its technical and technological capabilities, its democratic governance, its resilience in the face of COVID-19 and its robust economy offer considerable resources to inform the WHA’s deliberations, and we believe there is no reasonable justification to exclude its participation.”
Secretary Blinken declared that the United States “will continue to support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations where statehood is not a requirement and encourage Taiwan’s meaningful participation in organizations where its membership is not possible, in line with our One China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances.”