Compendium on Bhutan’s past interaction with the UN released

Diplomacy: A compilation of statements delivered by Bhutanese delegations at the United Nations between 1971–2014, was launched in Thimphu yesterday.

The statements, contained in two volumes and titled “Bhutan at the United Nations”, was compiled by former minister Dago Tshering, who served the majority of his 47-year government career with the foreign affairs ministry.

The compendium is a tribute to His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, the architect of Bhutan’s foreign policy and visionary for much of Bhutan’s interactions with the international community.

The compendium contains speeches made by Bhutanese delegations to the UN and at other international forums. It also includes statements made by Security Council members at the time of considering applications for membership, and the statements made by some of Bhutan’s neighbors in support of Bhutan’s admission.

Bhutan joined the UN in 1971 as the 129th member state.

This is the first time such material has been compiled into a single publication.

The speeches reflect positions taken by Bhutan’s representatives on regional and international issues, disarmament, and on the promotion of international cooperation for economic and social development.

“On reflection, what has always struck me about the UN is the value of that single vote of equal weight bestowed by the UN Charter upon each and every member state,” Dago Tshering said at the launch ceremony. “Whether a vote in support of a resolution, or a vote at an election for a position or membership to a UN body or committee, how much difference that single vote can make to the outcome.”

Lyonpo added: “In the mid 70s and 80s, Bhutan at the UN used to be known as a moderate member of NAM (Non Aligned Movement) … Being a Buddhist country, perhaps we reflected too much of Nagarjuna’s Middle Path.”

Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji referred to the UN Security Council (UNSC) debate on Bhutan’s application for membership as emotive. “As we review the statements by Permanent Representatives of UNSC member states, bearing in mind the historical backdrop for the Council’s debate, the undertones of cold war real politick are apparent,” said Lyonpo Damcho Dorji. “This makes us value our admission into the United Nations as a sovereign state on equal footing with other member states all the more.”

The foreign minister added that the compendium would be useful to those wanting to learn more about Bhutan’s foreign policy and of the issues that kept Bhutanese diplomats often “burning the midnight oil”.

UN ResidentCoordinator, Christina Carlson, said the two volumes would help today’s young people as well as researchers to measure the impact of Bhutan’s role in the UN. She pointed out that Bhutan has been at the forefront in supporting the efforts of the UN.

Former minister Dago Tshering served twice as the permanent representative to the UN in New York, and as ambassador to Bangladesh and India. He is credited with establishing Bhutan’s embassies in New Delhi, Dhaka, and Geneva.

The publication was supported by the Literary sub committee of the 60th BCC committee.

Gyalsten K Dorji

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