How Can Taiwan Enter the United Nations? History, Issues, and Approaches

Vincent Wei-cheng Wang, University of Richmond


This paper examines the history and issues related to, as well as offers some suggestions to, Taiwan's efforts to enter the United Nations. It first juxtaposes the UN's idealism (universal representation) with its realism (power politics) and reviews the evolution of the China representation issue in light of the changing politics in the United Nations. Then it tests Taiwan's statehood, which is requisite for UN membership, and discusses the domestic and international reasons for Taiwan's UN bid. In the final section, the paper demonstrates the prerequisites, models, and approaches for Taiwan's reentry into the United Nations. The three prerequisites are: (1) increasing the number of states that recognize Taiwan; (2) holding a plebiscite to determine the name and methods used in joining the United Nations; and (3) improving relations with Peking (Beijing). By discussing six possible models- (1) exclusive representation, (2) new state, (3) the German/Korean (parallel representation) model, (4) the Asian Development Bank model, (5) the Soviet Union model, and (6) the Vietnam model- this paper speculates that the most tenable bargaining set is between the fourth and fifth models. Finally, this paper suggests three distinct and not mutually exclusive approaches for Taiwan to join the United Nations: (1) General Assembly, (2) Observer, and (3) UN Programs and Autonomous Organizations. Emphasis is put on the third at the present time.