As a small landlocked developing country, multilateral engagement is an important aspect of Bhutan’s foreign policy in every sphere affecting humanity. 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 the principles of the UN Charter to maintain international peace and security, human rights and development.
Bhutan’s development philosophy of GNH, which places people at the heart of its development efforts, finds 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.
On 21 September 2021, Bhutan completed 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.
Over the years, Bhutan has been involved in the numerous bodies of the UN. Bhutan has served on many important posts such as:
- Vice President of the UN General Assembly
- 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)
- Chairman of the Third Committee during the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the UN
- President of the 74th World Health Assembly
- Chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group on climate change
The Permanent Mission of Bhutan in Geneva is accredited to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva (OHCHR, UNHCR, UNODA, WHO, UNITAR, UNCTAD, WIPO, ITU, GAVI, GFATM, WMO, IPU, UPU), the United Nations Offices and International Organizations in Vienna (such as the UNODC, UNIDO, UNCITRAL, INCB,), the UN and International Organizations in Rome (FAO, IFAD, WFP), Paris (UNESCO , Interpol) and UNEP in Nairobi.