UN Security Council

Coveted seats

“In the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India as a permanent member,” US President Obama recently announced in India’s Parliament.

And just like that, after years of demanding a permanent seat in the Security Council, India’s bid received a powerful boost.

India is the world’s second most populous country. Its economy, already among the biggest in the world, is one of the fastest growing. And it is playing an increasingly important role in global affairs.

So the US president’s pledge is timely. His assurances are good for India, and indeed, good for the world. Obama should fulfill his promise. He should push to make the UN’s anachronistic Security Council more relevant and effective by allowing today’s world leaders to take their rightful place in the Council.

Coincidentally, India’s friend and neighbour, Bhutan, is also vying for a seat in the UN Security Council, albeit as a nonpermanent member. The prime minister announced Bhutan’s ambitions during his visit to New York in September. And, since then, he has already visited several countries to lobby for their support.

In this connection, about two months ago, I posted a poll that asked, “Should Bhutan lobby to join the UN Security Council?” Of the 249 readers who took part in the poll, an overwhelming 70% (or 174 votes) answered “Yes”. The rest said “No”.

The poll results show that you, the reader, clearly support the government’s initiative to join the Security Council. This was also evident from the comments that you left on my post that introduced the poll. Most of you felt that there would be no harm in trying for the seat, and that, if we do get in, the membership would enhance our stature and international standing.

One commentator, Sonam Ongmo, offered more information about Bhutan’s aspirations for Security Council membership by way of her blog, “Dragon Tales”. And, lest the opposition opposes, she provided this lesson from Canada:

Canada lost its bid to run for a non-permanent security council seat after its vote count went down from by 30 percent in the second round of voting. Canada’s Foreign Minister has blamed its Opposition leader for the loss because of a lack of support and for being critical of the notion that Canada was not deserving of that seat.

I get the message, loud and clear.

Incidentally, I too think that serving in the UN Security Council is a good idea. But, only if the journey to the Security Council is not costly. And, if the adventure does not lull us into a false sense of success.


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  1. Dear OL,

    I m glad that for once you and the govt. are on the same page! As Sonam has gone at great lengths to illustrate her point, I hope you get the message. And please consider that as message from all of us.

    It does not need much imagination to understand the merits of becoming a member of a powerful body such as the UNSC, given the fast shrinking borders. More than anything else, this’d be a very strong assertion of our sovereignty and existence as an independent nation. Not an “adventure” , it is a necessity, a very strong one at that.

  2. I don’t know if Bhutan’s striving for a non-permanent seat in UN Security Council is coincidental or intentional given the kind of relationship we share with India.

    I fear our PM is not wasting our scarce resource on the unrealistic mission.


    If I recall correctly I remember reading your apology for misreading OL. It’s likely that you have to do it once more here. I don’t know if I am reading between the lines or you are jumping the gun. My interpretation according to this post is that the govt. and the OL aren’t on the same page. The govt. is hell bent on pursuing it regardless of the cost involved and the possibility, while the OL is very mindful of our scarce resource.

    Please exclude me from your “all of us” list. I don’t subscribe to a wisdom that compares apples to oranges.

    I don’t know how becoming a member of the UNSC would strengthen our sovereignty. I think we can safeguard our sovereignty by not outsourcing the development of our internal socio-economic policy to a foreign consultant. I also think it’s important that our leaders keep in touch with the people, understand the ground realities and their problems first hand. It would be a blunder to dissociate themselves from the masses as somebody “untouchables.” The great depression of 1930s was not due to not joining the UNSC and the like. It was due to incomplete and fragmentary information about the state of the economy. The policy makers had no comprehensive picture of what was happening to the economy. I hope and pray our leaders pay heed to a rising unemployment problem (sorry, I am skeptical of the authenticity of current unemployment rate. I hope we don’t use it in our policy formulation); growing poverty gap; degrading education, etc. so that we will not succumb to such disaster. Going by the poll result I think it is a misguided sense of success. Yes, for now the undertaking is wild adventure.

  3. *a wild adventure.

  4. “Incidentally, I too think that serving in the UN Security Council is a good idea. But…”

    This says they are, as of now, on the same page BUT, OL will turn that page IF…

    I don’t think there is any need for argument on this one

  5. OL ends with: “And, if the adventure does not lull us into a false sense of success”.

    Now, I do not expect the OL to support the government in whatever they do. It is not to his interest. In fact, it is to his interest to make sure that he is able to show that everything the government does is disastrous and against the interest of the government and the people of Bhutan. However, the OL ought to realize that the Bhutanese people are not so dumb; we can analyze things for ourselves.

    Calling Bhutan’s attempt at the UNSC membership an “adventure” is nothing short of pathetic. I do not believe that the OL is not aware of the many gains that will accrue to Bhutan if we were able to secure a berth in that august body. If he really does not understand the implications, then surely he is justly placed where he is.

    I also believe that he should change the …. “sense of success” to “sense of achievement”. That is, if he truly means well for the people of Bhutan.

    Now that I am at it, I would also urge the OL to bring meaningful discussions to this forum. He ought to give us, his readers, some bite of credit for possessing enough intelligence to know what is progressive and meaningful and what is trash.

    We truly need to discuss issues that impact us but wasting time on drama and theatre is counter productive. We are at the initial stages of a process that we have no experience with. There will be many mistakes that will be committed. We need to point out those mistakes and make suggestions to improve things. But it is disgusting to be wasting time participating in such stupid discussions.

    It is generally accepted that the OL is a man of substance and I agree with that but I have been disgusted with some of the issues that he has been bringing to this forum lately. Being the leader of the Opposition is a great responsibility too. Therefore, the OL needs to be lot more meaningful than he has been lately. Please appeal to a larger audience than merely the PDP supporters. Some us would like to go beyond our political convictions and participate in your concerns as a Bhutanese rather than as a person of opposing political conviction.

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