Once again, the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) took center stage at the United Nations as Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley, an ardent advocate of GNH, elaborated on the topic and how Bhutan has been able to make progress through the pursuit of this policy in his keynote address at the 20th Conference of the Forum of Small States (FOSS).
“GNH has enabled Bhutan to place the human individual and the dual needs of the mind and body at the center of planned change while ensuring that improvement of one condition does not come at the cost or neglect of other equally important and interdependent factors,” said Lyonchhen while addressing the conference on the theme, ‘Small States and their Drive to Development.’
Lyonchhen also expressed appreciation on the contributions FOSS has made to international relations by enhancing the role of the small states while highlighting the critical importance of the principles of UN to small states.
He said that these are “principles that make the UN relevant not only to big but to all members for the pride of equality it offers and the opportunity it gives to contribute to the wellbeing of our society.”
He said the small states would have no voice, space, right to be heard, to participate and to contribute without the UN. “Without the UN, we could become silent spectators as the big powers play out their games that shape our destiny,” he added.
Lyonchhen stressed on the fact that small states can become more effective and influence UN deliberations by acting in concert. “We can do so by pooling our resources together and by taking advantage of the principles on which are founded the United Nations,” he said.
Citing an example of the UN Security Council (UNSC), Lyonchhen highlighted on the importance to acknowledge the legitimate aspiration of small states to participate in the work of the various elected UN bodies to represent not only their own interests but also help provide calm, balance and fairness.
However, this, he said, was “often denied by larger countries who feel it is their duty to offer their repeated candidature as being far more competent and critical to furthering world causes.”
“Consequently, certain countries have become “semi permanent” members in bodies that could best benefit from new ideas and diversity of membership backgrounds while edging out the role of small but equally competent candidates,” he said.
Referring to the UNSC, Lyonchhen said, “While we have always respected its basic structure and supported the need for an enlarged and a more representative Council, we do believe that the route by which members are elected needs to be leveled through a more faithful application of the principle of equality and rotation.”
Lyonchhen added, “Equally worrying is the prospect of large and powerful countries gaining non-permanent membership while simultaneously occupying other extremely high positions in the UN system.”
Bhutan is competing with two countries, Cambodia and South Korea, for a nonpermanent seat at the UNSC reserved for Asia-Pacific nations that will replace India whose two-year term ends in 2012.
A vote is slated for mid-October to select non-permanent UNSC members who will serve from January 2013 to December 2014.
At the conference, Lyonchhen also said, “Much of what Bhutan has achieved with the GNH frame has been possible because we are small.”
“I am convinced that the post 2015 world agenda will be one that will not only set human society on a sustainable path, but persuade mankind to adopt a way of life that will enhance the wellbeing of all life forms and raise our individual and collective happiness,” he concluded.
The FOSS Conference organized by the Permanent Mission of Singapore was held on 1st October at the UN Headquarters in New York to commemorate 20 years since its establishment in 1992.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon opened the conference.With a membership of 105 UN Member States, FOSS is a diverse, non-ideological and informal grouping of states.