Bhutan’s Security Council bid

Recently, I read an article in which the author, a Bhutanese National wrote that, understanding and making GNH work at home is a prerequisite before anyone in Bhutan or elsewhere will accept and more importantly attempt to implement it as an economic development strategy. At present, GNH reminds me of nuclear disarmament, ending world hunger, promoting world peace, protecting the world’s women & children, and protecting the environment as “feel good” pursuits with which there is little to disagree conceptually.
Indeed some might argue that our very survival on this planet hinges on their attainment. It is this “we must or we need or you must or you should” level of GNH that things become a bit more problematic. They can also become a bit contentious.
Perhaps part of the problem is that despite there being genuinely different but valid opinions on the topics, they are also too large and too complex for most people to “get their heads around.”  Can anyone imagine a more difficult concept to define and upon which to reach consensus than happiness?  I can’t.  However, there is a solution.
An old environmental slogan suggests that we should “think globally but act locally.” Acting locally in terms of economic development means Bhutan must first show the world that GNH is implementable, operational, sustainable and functional in Bhutan. I’ve made this argument on countless occasions.  However, with Bhutan openly using the pursuit of GNH in its lobby to obtain a seat on the UN Security Council against Korea and Cambodia it is a message that is worth repeating.  The jury on GNH is still out and it has yet to render a verdict on Bhutan.  In fact, I would argue that despite being a “GDP” nation the Republic of Korea is by far a more worthy candidate.
Despite the opinion of some that I am “hyper-critical” it is not me doing the writing or reporting. The evidence as is constantly reported across all of Bhutan’s media outlets clearly indicates that Bhutan’s operationalization and implementation of GNH is falling well short of both the hope and promise GNH advocates portend.
Therefore, as they board their respective flights to the UN meetings, Bhutanese leaders cannot and must not ignore the realities as reported in their own backyard by their own media. The argument for the pursuit of GNH or the inclusion of Bhutan on the UN Security Council can only will be strengthened when the data demonstrates that GNH not only promotes economic development but that it fulfills the cultural, social, environmental, political outcomes it promises.
When GNH is sufficiently developed and operationalized such that Bhutan rivals, equals or exceeds the Republic of Korea on such internationally measured indicators as the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index; Reporters Without Borders Worldwide Press Freedom Index; the Heritage Foundation Indices of Economic Freedom; or, the Global Peace Index from the Institute for Economics and Peace Bhutan  will deserve its rightful place at the table.  Sitting on the Security Council is an earned position.  It is not or should not be an entitlement for espousing a few commendable goals such as GNH.
As it currently stands, GNH is a fad.  It is a bit more difficult to discern whether or not Bhutan’s candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council is realistic or just another fantasy flight being promulgated by a few leaders.  In either case, they are both topics that are talked about by the “few” not the many, as some media outlets and Bhutanese leaders would have the people believe.
What Bhutan needs is real economic development the type of development born of hard work, sacrifice, and in some cases even “suffering.” To this end, it is and has been my sincere hope and prayer, that Bhutanese leaders stop worrying so much about what they measure and whether they get a seat on the UN Security council and get busy doing the exceptionally hard work of building an infrastructure that someday, a day in the very, very distant future may, result in genuine and lasting happiness for the people and a seat on the UN Security Council.

Dr. David L. Luechauer – Krannert School of Management, Purdue University, USA

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19 comments

  1. The writer is worried about Bhutan’s mileage and gaining seat on UN Security Council. Should this be writer’s business and that too an outsider. This Dr. is sick and needs immediate attention of psychologists.

    • Yes, a freedom of expression, but as a media, doesn’t it hold also a social responsibilty for the country and its sovereinity.
      Remember, this same writer inhis earlier article expressed loosing Bhutan’s sovereignity and independence, and now he talks about Korea and Bhutan as if he is big delima in casting his vote. yayayyhyahyah…. thats how we took him as economic guru.

      • Writing and criticizing on certain topic based on fact is not going against sovereignty. Freedom of expression of the truth shall always prevail above all. . As a individual, Media or anyone, we should report the truth even if it is against the government.  As long as we  are right we can go against any one . And those who do not raise their voice in spite of the fact that they are cheated, well some don’t even know they are being cheated. they are equivalent to a swine.

      • RIGPA you don’t have enough rigpa about what you are talking about. when someone critical about some topic doesnt mean going aginst sovereignty.When you talk about sovereignty of before 2007 treaty, when Bhutan did not have sovereignty over its own foreign policy and was dictated by India. Did u raise ur voice at that time?

  2. Yeah, what  is wrong in aspiring for UNSC seat? What are we going to lose by trying this prestigious seat? The very founding principle of UN is based on “equality”  of all member states. And, most importantly, founding members wants to give opportunity to every member country to represent it and that is why, it is given opportunity to members based on continent, region etc. It is also selected through vote so that every country can try and contribute. The author is talking as if UNSC seat is meant for developed and elite country like south korea. If Nepal, whose GDP(per capita) is far below Bhutan can become UNSC member TWICE, why can’t Bhutan dream for at least once?

    Also, please don’t mix domestic issues with international affairs and make it sound as if Bhutan is irrelevant for UNSC seat. It is as if non of the existing UNSC members have domestic problems in their home country. 

    In terms of contribution too, it is debatable whether Bhutan or South Korea will contribute more by being UNSC member. Everyone knows that South Korea is one of the key allies of US and they usually talk in same tone and line when it comes to international problems and affairs. Probably, Bhutan may bring new perspective and, most importantly,   our decision and votes maybe unbiased as we are not particularly inclined to any of the big five permanent members.

    As of campaigning through GNH, whether Dr. David likes it or not, Bhutan is known through GNH and nothing is wrong in using this slogan in garnering the support. The idea and concept of GNH has been accepted unanimously by all UN members and now, we should work towards making it more practical and achievable. Probably, Dr. David should reassess who is actually living in real world and fantasy world!  

    • What are we risking? Quite a lot actually – we’re opening ourselves up the kinds of criticism the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Bhutan will have to give its vote on very tough issues. Will the government make the moral choices based on Bhutanese or will it just chicken out an abstain every time so as not to “upset” any of the big players? For example, let’s say there is a UNSC vote on the issue of Syria. Will we support dictatorship or take a stand and say that what is happening is wrong? How about the issue of the various South East Asian open waters, whose territoriality is disputed? If fighting breaks out, the UNSC will be forced to take a stand – smaller countries such as the Philippines might ask for UNSC support against China. How will Bhutan vote? Will it dare to condemn China for its aggressiveness and bullying when it has its own border disputes with the giant?

      See, I don’t think the UNSC is going to be so easily swayed by “GNH” arguments, which at this point are what Bhutan, according to the PM, wants to bring to the table. At the UNSC, Bhutan would be like a lovely hummingbird surrounded by hawks and vultures. To think that some of it’s beauty and goodness would somehow diffuse out to the others is very naive. Instead, I worry Bhutan will at best get bullied and at worst get ripped to shreds.

      You are right that this is about international issues, not domestic ones. I personally don’t care whether Bhutan has internally achieved good GNH progress or not, but the UNSC seat is a whole new can of worms.

  3. Healthy debate is a quality of open, healthy and democratic society. Every country must have people with varied schools of thoughts. This creates a healthy debate and we don’t just get carried away by one side of the coin. Ultimate decision should be after weighing all the pros and cons of each option. Way to go. People should debate!

  4. if bhutan wina seat in un, one thing is certain that she will always vote as per india or in india’s interest in global scenario.

    bhutanese extremist or if i can call loyalist , hate Dr David and his article and the paper that prints them.

    • There are many instances where Bhutan really did not vote in line with India in UN. So, it may not necessarily be true that we will always go along with india. 

      i won’t  be surprised if most of the people who are against Bhutan’s bid to UNSC are not necessarily against it, but rather they r not happy with present gov and PM, thus, they oppose whatever policy or initiative this gov pursue.

      • If Bhutan is elected to a UNSC seat, it can only be good for Bhutan, so I am wondering what all the fuss is about. Maybe what laydgh says is true, that it is only those people who can’t PM to fail are opposing it. Otherwise, they need to tell us why they think it would be bad for our country to be a member of the UNSC.

        • Please see my post above — I do agree that it would be a proud moment for Bhutan to have achieved that kind of international “prestige”, but the reasons against mainly have to do with protecting itself against massive international pressure on issues and conflicts that we really don’t want to have anything to do with. As someone from a country that is heavily involved in UNSC affairs (the USA), I can tell you that US decisions on the SC cause lots of domestic strife and I feel it would be unfortunate to see that in Bhutan. There is nothing about Bhutan that would make it “unqualified” in any way for the seat, but it might want to consider whether this is best for its own self interests at this point.

          • I agree with Samir completely. There is no benefit to Bhutan whatesoever. Rather it will haunt us. For now we have greater work at home than abroad. When we donot have capacity to grow our own vegetables at home, let us not foll the world by trying to build other countries. That is not what my country wants. I think leaders should come back home and build our country first.

  5. Mani Kumar Thapa

    Bhutan bidding for UNSC seat is a good thing as some of the earlier post suggest.
    But my question is at what cost and if it is worth the effort and if the timing is right – the answer is NO.
    The campaigning for the seat means endless trips for the PM and his huge delegation which is costing the poor coffers of our country huge amounts. At this stage we cannot afford it as we are in an economic crunch. This money could have been used for internal development.
    The UNSC seat will bring us little recognization at best, afterall who knows the non permanent members of the present council? It is not worth it. The gain is very little to what it is costing.
    The timing is wrong because Bhutan is in a crisis with a severe cash crunch, high unemployment and high inflation. The huge effort made by the Government for this bid could have been channelized domestically to solve the problems here. No one is addressing the issues here but chasing wild dreams abroad.

  6. The PM comes back after a long, really long visit to New York and at a press conference prepares the Bhutanese for probable defeat for his bid to the non permanent seat at the UNSC, later this month. The way it was told, he had  already known that chances were slim, but got into the game anyways. The point is can we gamble with our time and resources specially when the nation is going through an economic crisis. It is almost a crime to keep the Economic Minister back in New York knowing full well that there is not a chance in the world as stated by the PM himself. The Minister, instead should be brainstroming here to see how the business community can be supported to propel the economy back to its feet.
    The PM gives the justification that he initiated this to strenghten our sovereingnty and donor support. We have for decades survived with just 2 diplomatic missions in the capital and a few accredited, but thanks to the vision of our monarchs the health of sovereignty was doing just fine. On the donor front, we would like to hear from the PM how many millions has he brought in to the country, to help through present financial crisis, or what concrete comitments have been pledged. On the contrary, we hear that our biggest donor India is reducing some the much needed resources.
    We need more than GNH rhetoric from our PM. We need action and more tangible plans to strengthen our private sector and the  economy

  7. GNH and security council means frequent foreign trips for the elites. It means nothing to ordinary people.

  8. I happened to watch UNSC meeting. All the powerful world leaders expressed concerns about Syria and Iran.These are the 2 issues that needed addressal with efforts from important world leaders. Then came Bhutan into meeting with anti-climax agenda- the GNH. Only few left to listen to this alien concept.
    You have to be in tune with the world to be a member of security council!!!!Dr. david’s prophecy could prove true.

  9. Bhutan is not yet ready to shoulder international responsibility right now as David mentioned and we should be working hard to strengthen ourselves first. From the David’s argument, i could understand that Bhutan is serious country and if given such huge load, she may break her back and get collapsed. It seems to me that David is trying his best to educate the Bhutanese people on the reality. In fact, present government never asked the views of people on this issues.   

  10. at the cost of country’s resources, PM’s clever shot at gaining brownie points for his election campaigns next year, for attempting to place bhutan high up in the glamorous seats of UNSC, seems to be falling apart. although an ambitious endeavour, we are better off and happy not geting into the worldly affairs of security, conflicts and wars where we would have nothing to gain but lose more of our time and resources unnessessarily. at this moment, better remain myopic than try streaching one’s vision beyond capacity. instead, how about teaching us GNH at home?

  11. What would Bhutan gain by joining the NP Member at first place. Second how can we get only vote. This is one record that has to stay for lifetime.

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