Palau slams U.N. for blocking Taiwan delegates from attending Ocean Conference

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon

LISBON (Reuters) - A representative from the tiny Pacific nation of Palau hit out at the United Nations on Friday for not allowing Taiwanese nationals to be part of its delegation list at the Ocean Conference in Lisbon.

"The U.N. has excluded the 23 million people of Taiwan from the conversation," the delegate said at the conference's closing ceremony. "They were not given badges and were not allowed to be part of our delegation simply because they hold Taiwanese passports.

"We view this as a violation of our sovereign rights...ocean issues are global issues and we call on all of us to work together without discrimination."

Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, is not a member of the U.N. and its citizens are unable to attend U.N. events as representatives of Taiwan, which is largely excluded from international organisations that have China as a member.

A U.S. delegate said it was a "long-standing practice that each member state can decide the composition of its delegation", adding that it was up to Palau and Tuvalu, which also saw its Taiwanese members blocked from attending, to decide whether or not to include people from Taiwan.

"No credential committee should have pressed them to remove those individuals from their delegations," the U.S. delegate said.

Tuvalu Foreign Minister Simon Kofe withdrew from the conference after China challenged the accreditation of three Taiwanese delegates included in Tuvalu's delegation, Radio New Zealand reported on Monday.

After Palau's intervention, the Chinese representative said it was "regrettable" the Taiwan "issue" was brought up, adding: "Taiwan is part of China and cannot possibly attend a U.N. conference."

(Reporting by Catarina Demony; Editing by David Gregorio)