Bhutan’s Foreign Minister says India and Japan must be included as Permanent Members of a reformed UNSC  

Apart from Bhutan having just one year remaining before exit from the LDC category, Bhutan is currently undergoing major transformational initiatives to strengthen public service delivery, Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji,  speaking at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 2022, informed all participants. Additionally, Lyonpo called for expansion of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in both the permanent and non permanent categories and said that as per Bhutan’s view, from Asia, India and Japan must be included as Permanent Members of a reformed Council.  

This reference was made as Lyonpo spoke about the lack of progress on United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reform, which he said throws into question the relevance and legitimacy of the current global architecture, fragilizes international peace and security, and impinges on the Council’s ability to deliver on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. “Bhutan has always maintained that reform must accommodate the interest and concerns of all Member States, particularly of those unrepresented and underrepresented. Expansion of the Council in both the permanent and non permanent categories, along with reform of its working methods, constitute essential components of this process. In our view, from Asia, India and Japan must be included as Permanent Members of a reformed Council,” he said.

Concerning Bhutan, the minister said the entire public sector will be streamlined, strengthened in terms of capacity and performance, held to more rigorous standards of professionalism and accountability. “Our public servants must serve citizens with better and faster public services that they deserve,” he said.

Lyonpo also spoke about health and said that while While Universal Health Care is a guarantee enshrined in our Constitution, reforms in the health sector focus on the importance of preparedness for future outbreaks and pandemics, strengthening quality of health care, leveraging technology, and a renewed focus on mental health. “The health sector is being reformed to provide not only primary, but secondary and tertiary health care to all people within half a days travel. Specialist services are expanding across the country including, sending mobile teams to screen and treat high burden diseases,” he said.

Mention was also made about Bhutan’s revamped tourism policy, launched on 23rd September coinciding with the opening of Bhutan’s international border. “Since 1974 when Bhutan opened its doors for tourism, we have always followed the policy of High value, Low volume tourism, envisioned by His Majesty the Fourth King. However the minimum daily tariffs that was instituted was found to be too low, resulting in us becoming a budget destination, leading to mass tourism and its associated problems of increasing waste, decreasing quality of service standards, under-employment of our youth engaged in the sector, traffic jams and over-crowding of our most religious sites. We have always prioritized the well being of the people, preserving our environment, our tradition and culture over unsustainable and mindless development,” Lyonpo said.

He said that in keeping with Bhutan’s development philosophy of GNH, the sector has been restructured and reformed so that it benefits Bhutan not only economically, but socially and environmentally.” In the long run we want to create high value, authentic and unique experiences for visitors and well paying professional jobs and businesses for our citizens,” he said.

Lyonpo Tandi further spoke about the increasing fragmentation, polarization, and growing inequality in the world today, which he said serve as an urgent cry for strengthening multilateralism, for greater political resolve, solidarity, and compassion. “It is apparent that no individual, community or country can overcome contemporary challenges on their own. Interdependence is at the core of our existence and we must come together through stronger, more effective multilateralism,” Lyonpo said.

Moreover, Lyonpo said that Bhutan’s commitment to multilateralism with the UN at its core, remains unwavering. “As a small, landlocked and peaceful country, we remain fully committed to the noble objectives enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Coinciding with the 50th year of membership in the Organisation, which we marked last year, Bhutan responded to the call to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security – a key pillar and objective of the United Nations. Since then, Bhutan has prepared for the deployment of its first uniformed military unit, a Light Quick Reaction Force to a UN peace mission,” he said, adding that this process was set in motion in 2014 when Bhutan first joined the ranks of UN troop contributing countries. “Our well trained troops will arrive to serve the cause of peace in MINUSCA in the weeks ahead. They will meet the highest standards in performance and accountability and I am confident that they will serve the international community with distinction and honor. It is a matter of great pride that although Bhutan is amongst the smallest members of the United Nations, with this initial deployment, we would rise to the ranks of the top 60 troop contributing countries, from 81 at present,” Lyonpo remarked.

Lyonpo shared that of particular note, consistent with Bhutan’s deep commitment to promotion and protection of the environment, Bhutan considers that pursuit of environmentally responsible practices in operations as a moral imperative. “We feel strongly that at the minimum, ‘do no harm’ ethic must drive all aspects of field operations and conduct, and that where ever possible, field presences should on their departure, be remembered by local communities for the positive legacies they have left for host countries. “Bhutan has therefore pledged that when Bhutan’s uniformed contingent deploys, we will do so in an environmentally sustainable manner with renewable energy, waste management, and provision of assistance to local communities whom we will serve. The center piece of our pledge is the use of solar panels for lighting purposes in the barracks and camp area,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lyonpo called for the UN’s need to reboot, to be able to meet the challenges of the present day and future and to keep pace and reflect contemporary realities. “It must be reformed to respond more effectively to changed global realities and to new and emerging threats that confront us today. No-where is this more evident nor urgent than in the growing call for comprehensive reform of the United Nations Security Council,” he said, adding that that 43 years since inclusion of the subject in the General Assembly’s Agenda, and nearly three decades since the establishment of the GA’s Open Ended Working Group on UNSC Reform, the world has fallen far short.

Ugyen Tenzin from Thimphu