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Background Information

2751 [XXVI] Admission of Bhutan to membership in the United Nations

The General Assembly,

Having received the recommendation of the Security Council of 10 February 1971 that Bhutan should be admitted to membership in the United Nations, 1

Having considered the application for membership of Bhutan,2

Decides to admit Bhutan to memebrship in the United Nations.

1934th plenary meeting,

21 September 1971

1  Official Records of the General Assembly, wenty-sixth Session, Annexes, agenda item 25, document A/8278

2 A/8275. For the printed text of this document, see offical Records of the Security Council, Twenty-fifth Year, Supplement for October, Novemebr, December 1970, document S/10050

The Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the United Nations in New York is one of the two posts (along with the mission in Geneva) that represent Bhutan’s interests in the United Nations system.

The Mission provides the focus of Bhutan’s participation in the regular and special sessions of the General Assembly. As a small and developing country Bhutan is firmly committed to the UN system, and has particular interest in having effective mechanisms for multilateral cooperation that complement our bilateral and regional relationships. The importance of the UN and its myriad systems to Bhutan can be seen in fundamental areas of international peace and security, the development of international legal instruments and norms, and development assistance. It is found in the work of UN programs and technical agencies, which deal with issues such as the provision of humanitarian assistance, assistance to vulnerable groups such as women and children, and protection of the environment, and sustainable development.

A most important foreign policy initiative taken by the Royal Government in the modern history of Bhutan was in moving away from a policy of self-imposed isolation. The country gradually opened its doors to the outside world by joining the Universal Postal Union [UPU] in 1961, and became a member of the United Nations [UN] in 1971. 

Being a small country virtually unknown to the rest of the world, the entry of Bhutan into the UN reaffirmed the nation's sovereign independent status. It also laid the foundations for cooperation with the UN and its specialized agencies.

Bhutan became a member of the Economic & Social Commission for Asia & Pacific (ESCAP) in 1972. In 1973, Bhutan joined the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Membership in the NAM ensured the “national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” in their “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, apartheid, racism and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference as well as against bloc politics.”

As a principle of state policy, the Royal Government of Bhutan [RGoB] strives to promote goodwill and cooperation with nations, foster respect for international law and treaty obligations, and encourage settlement of international disputes by peaceful means in order to promote international peace and security. Bhutan has always attached great importance to the purposes and principles of the UN and regards its UN policy within the context of Gross National Happiness [GNH] as an integral part of foreign policy. Bhutan fully subscribes to the charter of the United Nations and accordingly has increased both scope and content of international relations. As a member state of the UN, Bhutan plays an active role as a responsible member of the international community. The RGoB continues to develop and maintain friendly relations with all countries in the region and beyond. 

Bhutan's Permanent Missions to the UN in New York and Geneva are the channels through which Bhutan's foreign policy objectives vis-à-vis the UN and it subsidiary bodies and specialized agencies are implemented.

For Bhutan, the UN is extremely important both politically as well as economically:

    *       Politically, as an organization based on the principle of sovereign equality of its members, it provides a forum in which Bhutan can express its views and concerns on a wide range of issues on the international agenda.

    *      Economically, the UN and its specialized agencies are an important source of financial and technical assistance to the process of socio-economic development in Bhutan. Assistance from the UN and its specialized agencies have played a vital role in the process of modernization in Bhutan since 1973.

Participation in the UN: Over the years, Bhutan's status as an active and responsible member of the UN has gained prominence through its involvement in the numerous bodies of the UN. Bhutan has served on many important posts such as the Vice President of the UN General Assembly (New York), President of the Trade and Development Board, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD, Geneva), two terms as member of the UN Commission on Human Rights (Geneva), two terms as member of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and Chairman of the Third Committee during the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the UN.

Through our diplomatic missions and embassies,  Bhutan’s friends and development partners are regularly informed of the developments in the country , and the overall foreign policy objectives of the country are also fulfilled. The RGoB also exchange visits at various levels, organizes international seminars, conferences, cultural and religious exhibitions about Bhutan, and participates in bilateral and multilateral meetings including at the summit levels. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs [MFA] engages with regional and international media to promote greater awareness of the country.