Taiwan’s chance to move towards omnilateralism

It's time to replace the 17th century sovereignty-based Westphalian order with a more inclusive one

Taiwan News
Date: 2020/04/29
By: Dr Wolfgang Pape, Bruxelles, Taiwan News, Contributing Writer

The photo shows a televised daily media briefing by Health Minister Chen Shih-chung in his capacity as CECC chief. (CNA photo)

A pandemic[1] was announced by the WHO on March 11, 2020, describing the global spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, as early as the beginning of December last year, health officers in Taipei were checking passengers from Wuhan for symptoms before they left their plane. As a result, by the end of December 2019, the WHO had already received from Taipei an early warning about the risk of this new coronavirus.[2]

However, the WHO could not officially share this warning with its members. Precious time to prepare for prevention worldwide was lost. Why? In simple terms, because the alert came from a society that is not an official member of the WHO nor its parent body, the UN. As its name suggests, the United Nations accepts only “nations” as its formal members.

Shouldn’t the current “multi”-lateral or inter-“national” institutions, founded on the logic of the 17th-century Westphalian system of “sovereign nations,” which underpins the UN, now be opened up globally to all legitimate stakeholders? Is it not time to evolve towards an omnilateral[3] system?

The often un-“United Nations,” which this year is preparing for its 75th anniversary, has impressively grown its membership from 51 nations in 1945 to 193 today. But like with the democracies of the world, growth seems to be only in numbers and not in strength and efficiency. For about a century, attempts to shape a global order have come and gone under the much-marketed brand of “multilateralism,” notably through its strongholds in the League of Nations and UN. However, how successfully have they managed to build a truly common global order?    [FULL  STORY]

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