The Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley in his key note address at the 16th Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit yesterday at Tehran, Iran focused mainly on GNH as an alternative development model and Bhutan’s role in it.
The speech was the backdrop of Bhutan being chosen as the Vice-Chair for the NAM summit.
The Prime Minister said, his delegation welcomed and fully subscribes to the summit theme, “Lasting Peace through Joint Global Governance”.
He said, “Capturing the essence of our Movement, it is a statement of yearning for sustained peace through inclusive international cooperation and multilateralism. It draws attention to the reality of a world in conflict, a world being destroyed by our inability and unwillingness to understand each other and to strive together for collective good. It reminds us that ours is an intelligent but visionless species struggling to survive against the rising odds that are the makings of our own genius.”
The Prime minister explained that while peace may be understood as the absence of conflict, lasting peace would be possible only when the very causes of conflict are nonexistent.
The Prime Minister said that while forces of globalization have compelled people to live together in shrinking space and time, individuals and nations conspired to stay apart.
Lyonchhen said, “Through fierce and often unfair competition for material gains, we sacrifice precious relationships that hold together the bricks of our society. .”
The Prime Minister said that the world’s current development model causes discontent, conflict and destruction of the earth’s life support system.
He said, “In consequence, natural resources are depleting fast and even water is now a very scarce commodity. What the escalating race for control of diminishing resources will yield is a chilling thought. And what happens when, very soon, there may be nothing to fight over?”
The Prime Minister pointed out that global warming is causing natural calamities, . He said, “Our financial and economic systems are falling apart and states are failing. Socially, families and communities are disintegrating.”
Lyonchhen questioned why happiness cannot be made the end of development and purpose of governance.
Lyonchhen said that there is increasing dissatisfaction with GDP focused development there is now a serious search for more comprehensive indicators that should guide development toward human wellbeing and happiness.
“My own country has been sharing its experience of having pursued Gross National Happiness (GNH), over four decades, by balancing material growth with mental and spiritual enrichment within a stable environment,” said Lyonchhen.
He explained that Bhutan in collaboration with researchers and institutions across the world continues to improve the indices used to measure the conditions that result in individual and collective happiness.
The Prime Minister reported to the session that the adoption of the resolution on happiness by the UN in 2011 led to the High Level Meeting at the UN Head Quarters in April 2012, attended by member delegations, thought leaders, scientists, leading economists and civil society.
He said these were speedily followed up by yet another UN resolution introduced by the UNGA president, declaring the arrival of spring each year, the 20th of March, as the International Day of Happiness.
These the Prime Minister said have given an impetus to the active global search for a holistic, sustainable and inclusive development process at national, sub-national and, corporate levels in many countries.
He said that in line with the UN mandate to elaborate the proposal for a new development model, the international experts group commissioned by His Majesty the King, will work closely with the UN Secretary General’s own High Level Panel on the post MDG world and the New Sustainable Development Initiative headed by professor Jeffery Sachs.
He said Bhutan will also participate actively in the efforts of the UNGA to define new goals for sustainable development.
Throwing a strong pitch for Bhutan’s UN Security Council bid he said, “It is Bhutan’s cherished dream to be able to contribute to sustained global peace and security through non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council. To this end, we seek your blessing.”
Lyonchhen said that these actions gave him reason to believe that the world, which for too long, has been changing without clarity or direction, may, at last, be guided by the universal and timeless goal of happiness.
The Prime Minister in his concluding remarks said, that the pursuit of the happiness model and public policies framed around it will end causes of conflict.