As a small landlocked developing country, multilateral engagement is an important aspect of Bhutan’s foreign policy both in political and economic spheres. The first multilateral organization Bhutan joined was the Colombo Plan in 1962. This membership enabled Bhutan to avail of the much-needed technical and economic assistance to carry out its development plans. Bhutan’s membership to the United Nations in 1971 is the biggest milestone in its multilateral engagement. As a small state, Bhutan deeply values its membership in the UN for the pride of sovereign equality that it accords and opportunity to participate in international development. Underpinned by the values of Gross National Happiness (GNH), Bhutan remains committed to upholding and advancing UN Charter Principles to maintain international peace and security, human rights and development of its people.
Bhutan’s development philosophy of GNH which places people at the heart of its development efforts find high resonance with the 2015 Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Bhutan’s contribution to the global discourse on international development was recognized through the unanimous adoption of the resolution entitled “Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development” in 2011 by the UN General Assembly. A year later the UN General Assembly declared March 20 as the International Day of Happiness.
In line with its UN Charter commitment to the maintenance of international peace and security, Bhutan started contributing to UN peacekeeping operations around the world in September 2014. Bhutan is also party to six important international disarmament instruments.
On 21 September 2021, Bhutan will complete its 50th year of membership in the UN. Despite the changed realities since the UN was established in 1948, Bhutan firmly believes that the UN as the quintessential seat of global multilateralism is best positioned to mobilize collective action to address and resolve contemporary problems facing humanity.
Bhutan is also a member of number of important groupings engaging in different areas, which are mentioned below: