'It makes sense' for Taiwan to join international groups: Tang laureate
2016.09.27
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Taipei, Sept. 27 (CNA) Louise Arbour, the winner of the 2016 Tang Prize in rule of law, said Tuesday that it makes sense for Taiwan to have a seat in international organizations such as the civil aviation body, where the participation of every nation is important.

Arbour, who received the Tang award at a ceremony in Taipei Sunday, made the comment during a discussion session after giving a speech at National Taiwan University on the rule of law.

When asked during the discussion to comment on Taiwan's exclusion from this year's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly, Arbour said Taiwan has a strong case for inclusion in organizations where international interest in universal participation in high.

"This is why I find it surprising that in the field of international aviation, that there could be an exclusion of a player," she said.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense to use political principles or rules or interests in keeping out partners who need to be enlisted for the greater good," said Arbour, a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"Whatever the method of accommodating Taiwan having a seat at the table … I think it makes sense," she said.

In her speech earlier, Arbour, who is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, strongly condemned worldwide anti-drug policies based entirely on repression and prohibition.

She said such policies have proven to be unworkable and a failure over the past 50 years, leading to massive imprisonment that disproportionately affects minority groups, gross abuse of the death penalty and stigmatization of young people and women.

The international effort now is to shift from criminalizing conduct to tackling public health issues and regulating the market, Arbour said.

She also stressed the importance of "compromise," saying it is important for human rights activists to be willing to be strategic and accept strategic compromises to advance their ideas.

When the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was first proposed, for example, many in the public were suspicious of giving so much power to judges, and argued that in a democratic country, the parliament should be supreme and unelected judges should merely interpret and apply the law, Arbour said.

The dispute was resolved by adopting a provision in the Constitution that allows the Canadian parliament to enact laws that courts strike down as unconstitutional, as long as it says explicitly that the law will apply notwithstanding the Charter, she said.

In effect, the parliament has to bear the burden of saying it is passing a law that violates the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, which is a politically costly gesture and almost never done in reality, Arbour said.

"It was seen by many human rights activists as a defeat. It was, in retrospect, a very small price to pay for this Charter to come into effect with all the benefits that it provided," she said.