Namensartikel des Leiters des EU-Büros in Taiwan, Frederic Laplanche, zum Internationalen Menschenrechtstag

Op-ed article on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day

10 December 2014

Frederic Laplanche, Head of the European Economic and Trade Offce


On this day (10 December) in 1948, the United Nation General Assembly adopted the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". For the next few decades, this Declaration together with the "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" and the "International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights" (the two Covenants) jointly formed the "International Bill of Human Rights". The Bill then served as the foundation for the basic principles of human rights. So each year on this day, we look back and examine ourselves on the issue of human rights and see if we have done all we can to ensure the protection of people's basic rights.

Last month, Taiwan underwent another major election. The election process went peacefully and smoothly, and the efficiency with which the votes were counted and results declared was remarkable. The fact that the winners of the elections were humble in the face of the coming responsibilities and the losers gracefully admitted defeat and congratulated their opponents, pays tribute to the vitality and maturity of Taiwan's democracy, which truly is one of the best examples in the Asia Pacific region.

In the past few years, we have also seen Taiwan's clear effort in pursuing better guarantees of human rights. In 2009, the Legislative Yuan adopted the "Act to Implement 'the Two Covenants'", which was proclaimed by the President in the same year. The Act ensured that all dispositions under the two covenants are considered as domestic law in Taiwan. In 2011, the Legislative Yuan adopted the "Act to Implement the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women", and in April this year adopted the "Act to Implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child", which just went into force on the 20th of last month. All these voluntary actions to incorporate the dispositions of international conventions into domestic laws through legislation further consolidate the protection of human rights in Taiwan, and are worthy of many praises.

The vibrant development of Taiwan's civil society is also one of the key factors behind the progress in Taiwan's human rights situation. For example, on the protection of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersexual (LGBTI) rights, Taiwan is in a leading position in the Asia Pacific region. Even though, as in Europe, the protection of LGBTI rights is still not perfect. Taiwan is nevertheless already a source of inspiration and best practices for many other civil groups in the region. Taiwan's NGOs are also very active in many other areas, and act as the impetus and catalyst of progress. The EU and its member states encourage Taiwan's human rights civil groups to interact and exchange experience with relevant counterparts in Europe, so that civil societies from both sides can learn and benefit from each other.

On the interaction between the judiciaries, the EU and Taiwan have in the past few years organised several judicial exchange programmes which allowed judicial professionals from both sides to conduct thorough discussions on the subject of human rights. We have observed that Taiwan's judiciary has gradually given more importance to the dispositions of the international conventions, and that more and more judges are citing the covenants or conventions in their judgements. These are all very positive developments.

Of course, Taiwan and the EU still have a lot to do on the issue of human rights. After the adoption of the "Act to Implement 'the Two Covenants'", Taiwan's government proactively authored Taiwan's first human rights report, which was then reviewed by a panel of international experts who were also invited by the government. The panel gave many concrete and useful concluding remarks, which included a recommendation to initiate a moratorium on the execution of death row inmates. We sincerely hope that Taiwan will take these conclusions at heart and take concrete actions. On the International Human Rights Day , we hope that we in Taiwan and the EU continue our efforts in pursuing the betterment of human rights protection, and that we will also continue to assist each other, to the benefit of human rights situations for ourselves and in our regions.