An Open Letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations: WHA Accreditation for Taiwanese Journalists

His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan
Secretary General of the United Nations
United Nations Organisation
New York, NY10017 - USA

Fax: +1 212 963 2155 / 963 7055

Via email: [email protected] and [email protected]

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, is deeply concerned over the rejection of accreditation for Taiwanese journalists to cover the 59th annual World Health Assembly in Geneva, for the third year in a row.

The IFJ is concerned the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) refusal to accredit Taiwanese journalists, for the second year in a row, to cover the event is discriminatory and is undermining the ability of the Taiwanese media to cover world affairs.

Journalists are independent individuals and should not be seen as representatives of their country of origin.

It is important that Taiwanese journalists are free to cover all major events, including the WHO annual meeting in Geneva.

The refusal of accreditation not only disregards journalists’ rights, but also disregards the free flow of information to the public.

It is unacceptable that the UN, as the global leader in human rights issues, would systematically undermine the basic rights of freedom of the press and journalists’ rights to report on our world.

Health issues transcend territorial boundaries, and should also transcend politics. Globalisation has increased cross-border exchanges, which has heightened the risk of diseases spreading across borders. It is, therefore, in the interest of all peoples that information concerning the WHA be disseminated as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The IFJ calls on the UN to adhere to Article 19 of UDHR, return to its original policy of providing credentials to journalists irrespective of their nationality, and work to ensure that no journalists are denied access to major news events in the future.

The IFJ calls on the UN to set a high standard of press freedom and uphold basic journalistic rights by allowing our Taiwanese colleagues to attend and report on the World Health Assembly.

Yours sincerely

Christopher Warren
International Federation of Journalists