Collaborative Governance in Taiwan’s Covid-19 Pandemic Response
Lessons Learned From a Human Rights Perspective
PUBLISHED: MARCH 2023
Authored by ICNL consultant, Shawn Shieh, this report praises Taiwan’s pandemic governance for its transparent, collaborative nature in which government agencies worked with civil society to deal with COVID-19. With low case numbers and death counts, Taiwan was able to avoid stringent measures such as lockdowns and school and workplace closings for much of the pandemic. Unlike many other countries in the region, Taiwan was careful not to impose a state of emergency. Instead, it passed the COVID-19 Special Act in line with the constitution and legislative procedures. These were impressive achievements given that the pandemic generally concentrated greater executive powers in governments worldwide, leading to widespread infringements of civil liberties. The report also finds places where collaborative approach, and attention to human rights, fell short and makes recommendations to Taiwan’s policymakers and civil society on areas for improvement to prepare for the next pandemic.
Using a rights-based analysis that assesses Taiwan’s pandemic governance in three areas – transparency, accountability, and collaboration – this report found multiple good, collaborative practices that contributed to the response effectiveness. These included:
- the use of daily press conferences and social media channels to communicate with the press and public;
- central/local government coordination with the private sector and civil society on manufacturing masks, setting up quarantine services, procuring vaccines, and combating misinformation;
- government cooperation with the civic tech community to scale up a mask map to help people find pharmacies where masks were available, and with fact-checking organizations to counter misinformation regarding the pandemic; and
- local governments working together with groups providing services to the homeless and other vulnerable groups affected by the pandemic, among other examples.
In terms of gaps in Taiwan’s collaborative approach, government collaboration and consultation with civil society was found to be more ad hoc than advertised, and problems with government overreach, accountability, and responsiveness to human rights concerns were not always taken seriously. Moreover, collaborative governance was more limited in the second pharmaceutical phase that started after an outbreak in May 2021. This phase saw greater social and political divisions as the administration came under criticism for not procuring and developing vaccines fast enough to prepare the population. These divisions were exacerbated by China’s role in complicating vaccine procurement and weakened society’s cooperation with and trust in the government, which was evident in the first phase.
This report, highlights ways Taiwan can build on its successful approaches and further institutionalize its collaborative governance approach. It recommends strengthening government engagement with civil society and communities to address concerns around human rights, discrimination, and transparency, further ensure Taiwan’s status as a leader in rights-respecting public health governance, and prepare for the next pandemic.
台灣應對COVID-19 疫情的協力治理: 從人權觀點的經驗學習
這份報告由國際非營利法中心 (ICNL) 支持撰寫，提出台灣可以如何以其成功作法為基礎，進一步制度化協力治理方法。報告概述強化政府與公民社會和社群互動可以如何協助解決人權、歧視和透明度等擔憂，進而鞏固台灣在尊重權利的公共衛生治理上的領導地位