Isolated But Not Oblivious: Taiwan's Acceptance of the Two Major Human Rights Covenants
TAIWAN AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS: A STORY OF TRANSFORMATION (Jerome A. Cohen, William P. Alford and Chang-fa Lo eds.) New York: Springer, 2019.
25 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2018 Last revised: 22 May 2019
Date Written: January 27, 2018
Since the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC or Taiwan) lost the seat of China in the United Nations (UN) to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1971, the ROC government has been excluded from the UN system, including its human rights treaty regime. Despite this isolation, Taiwan nevertheless ratified the two major UN human rights covenants in 2009 — the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). This development is a milestone in Taiwan’s engagement with international human rights law. Although Taiwan’s attempt to deposit the instruments of ratification with the UN was rejected, it has committed itself to following the covenants by granting them the status of domestic legislation and instituting mechanisms to implement them. The efforts of Taiwan as a non-UN member state to adopt the two human rights covenants are a shot in the arm for the international human rights system. This chapter examines how a state shut out of the UN human rights regime became a strong supporter of the regime. With special attention to the relevant advocacy campaigns and political discussion, this chapter seeks to identify the driving forces behind Taiwan’s ratification. More broadly, the case study of Taiwan offers insight into the social, legal and political processes of a bottom-up ratification campaign as well as obstacles in a contested political context.
Keywords: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Isolation, Civil Society, Ratification Campaign, Politics of Ratification
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