His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan
Secretary General of the United Nations
United Nations Organisation
New York, NY10017 – USA
cc. Mr. LEE Jong-wook, Director General, WHO
Mr Koichiro Matsuura, Director General, UNESCO
Dear Mr. Annan,
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, expresses its deep concern over the rejection of accreditation for Taiwanese journalists to attend the annual conference of the World Health Organisation in May 2004.
The following motion was unanimously endorsed at the IFJ XXIV World Congress at Athens, Greece on 25-30 May 2004.
29. Journalists’ Rights in Taiwan
Proposer: Association of Taiwan Journalists
The XXV Congress of the International Federation of Journalists, meeting in Athens from May 25-30, 2004,
noting that Taiwanese journalists were refused accreditation for the annual conference of the World Health Organisation which took place in mid-May 2004 -- this unjust treatment has seriously undermined Taiwanese journalists’ right to work --,
noting that the reject was based on the grounds that Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, Taiwan being expelled from the UN since 1971, due to opposition from China. Likewise Taiwan has been excluded from all organisations linked to the UN, including the WHO. In spite of that, Taiwanese journalists have always been able to obtain accreditation until now. This is doubtless a backward step for the freedom of the press;
aware that the historical complexities between Taiwan and China are of long duration. Even though Taiwan has been isolated by these boycotts, the refusal of these passports is totally groundless. People in Taiwan have the right to know the reason for such a refusal,
· that an official announcement supporting the freedom of the press and the right to work of Taiwanese journalists in this case be made in the name of the IFJ and
· that a letter be sent in the name of the IFJ to the UN General Secretariat, urging them to observe a high standard of press freedom and to prevent the recurrence of such a situation in future.
The denial of accreditation has undermined the ability of Taiwanese journalists to cover world affairs. Journalists are independent individuals and should not be seen as representatives of their country of origin.
The IFJ calls on the UN and the WHO to ensure that no future journalists will be denied access to working passports by the WHO or other UN agencies, and be treated as independent observers to major news events.
This issue goes to the heart of freedom of the press and journalists’ right to report on our world. It is essential that journalists be free to cover all major events. As a global leader on human rights issues, the IFJ calls on the UN to set a high standard of press freedom and uphold basic journalistic freedoms.
International Federation of Journalists