Celebrating 74 years of United Nations in Bhutan

The 74th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Organization in Bhutan was celebrated on October 24, 2019 at the Tara Lha-den Zhingkham in Pangrizampa, Thimphu.

The celebration was graced by Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck as the Guest of Honour.

The event was attended by Dr. Natalia Kanem, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, officials of the United Nations, senior government officials and members of the diplomatic community.

In Her Majesty the Queen Mother’s address, Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck said she was delighted to be amongst the gathering to celebrate the United Nations Day.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother added that it’s a day to reflect on why the United Nations was founded and to remember with appreciation all its agencies and people who have sacrificed greatly to make the world a better place.

“To them I offer my deepest gratitude. I acknowledge with deep appreciation, all the U.N Staff in Bhutan for their dedication and committed service to the people of Bhutan,” Her Majesty the Queen Mother said.

In the statement of Lyonpo (Dr) Tandi Dorji, Minister for Foreign Affairs, he thanked the UN on behalf of the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) for their contributions to Bhutan’s developmental efforts and reaffirmed the value attached to RGoB’s partnership with UN agencies.

“Bhutan became a member of the United Nations on 21 September 1971 and for us, the UN day holds both practical and symbolic values. It is an occasion to celebrate our membership to the United Nations, the fruitful and successful partnership, and to reiterate our commitment to the United Nations and its specialized agencies,” the minister said.

Given the importance attached to the United Nations, the foreign affairs minister added that the Prime Minister led the Bhutanese delegation to the high-level segment of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly last month in New York.

“The Bhutanese delegation took the opportunity to meet and discuss Bhutan’s engagement with the senior management of the United Nations including the United Nations Secretary General, UNDP Administrator, USGs of UNDESA, UNDPO, UN-OHRLLS, Executive Directors of UNFPA and UNICEF, and the Director Generals of IOM and FAO. I am happy to inform that the discussions on current and emerging national and global issues were most substantive and fruitful,” he said. 

Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji also told the congregation that Bhutan supports the UN Secretary General’s agenda of reforming the entire UN system for the long-term positioning of the United Nations Development system and to make the UN more relevant and “fit for purpose”.

“In this regard, Bhutan welcomes the inception of the new RC system and we are happy that the first Resident Coordinator of the UN system in Bhutan under the reinvigorated and enhanced RC system, Mr. Gerald Daly presented his credentials to the Royal Government on 23 April this year. I am also happy to share that Bhutan has made a voluntary contribution to the special trust fund to cover the immediate gap of the cost of a reinvigorated RC system,” he added.  

And subsequent to December 2018 UNGA resolution on graduation from the category of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the foreign affairs minister said Bhutan has now entered the preparatory phase and is slated to graduate on 13 December 2023.

According to the minister, the government welcomes the progression as this is a testament to the achievements made in its socio-economic development and the fruitful collaboration with its development partners. The UN system has played a critical role in this journey and we will look forward to continuous partnership post-graduation.

“However, we recognize that Bhutan continues to remain vulnerable as it faces inherent structural impediments, constraints and vulnerabilities. The Royal Government will undertake its graduation in a sustainable manner and is making concerted efforts to overcome the challenges and vulnerabilities by building productive capacity and economic resilience to ensure there is no back slippage on the hard earned development gains. These efforts will extend well beyond the transition period after graduating from the LDCs,” the minister said.

The minister concluded saying that they look forward to even greater engagement and collaboration.

Meanwhile, Bhutan became a member of the United Nations on 21st September 1971.

Tshering from Thimphu