Traditionally, Autumn is a festive season with annual tshechus across the many valleys in the country. It is also a season of harvest for the farmers of what they have cultivated in the months gone by.
Bhutanese have another occasion to celebrate today. The country marks 50 years as a member of the UN. Celebrations of this milestone were launched coinciding with the 41st birth anniversary of His Majesty The King in February this year.
This is also the time to reflect on our journey as a nation and the sacrifices and hardships our leaders experienced as they embarked on fulfilling the aspirations of their subjects and secure the future of the nation.
The membership into the UN was a result of years of consistent planning, perseverance, and determined actions.
Bhutan’s membership in the UN started with His Majesty the Third Druk Gyalpo’s vision and foresight. Despite our constraints in various resources, our leaders worked relentlessly from joining the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in South and South-East Asia in 1962, the Universal Postal Union in 1969, until the successful admission to the United Nations in 1971.
While UN assisted Bhutan to achieve its planned developments over the decades, Bhutan has been involved in the numerous bodies of the UN, and its leadership has been recognised from time to time.
The presence of the UN system is important for Bhutan, a small country between two giant neighbours, both politically as well as economically.
It provides us with a forum in which we can express our views and concerns on a wide range of issues on the international agenda. Economically, the specialised agencies have been important sources of financial and technical assistance to our socio-economic development. Assistance from the UN and its specialised agencies has played a vital role in the process of modernisation in Bhutan.
Today, as we prepare to graduate from the least developed countries group by 2023, the UN has a greater responsibility and role to play. The expectations from us will also be far greater.
As we build back from the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, our priorities have to transcend short term gains. There are reforms beginning in many sectors from education, health, and governance, among others. No matter how tumultuous the changes, if we let ourselves be guided by the visionary leadership of our Monarchs, no challenge will be too big.
Through decades, we have learnt that we have difficulty in grasping the depth and holistic picture of the reforms of our Kings at the beginning. From joining the UN to instituting democracy to the nationalisation of the natural resources, the results today speak for themselves.
This day gives us the opportunity not just to celebrate our successes but also to embrace the challenges and strive to bring out the best in us – for our future like our ancestors did for us.