Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to thank President Ahmadi Nejad and the government and people of Iran for the warm and gracious hospitality. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Egypt for having guided the work of our Movement over the last three years.
My delegation welcomes and fully subscribes to the summit theme, “Lasting Peace through Joint Global Governance”. 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.
While peace may be understood as the absence of conflict, lasting peace is possible only when the very causes of conflict are nonexistent. Unfortunately, ours is a world where the causes for conflict abound with growing diversity and intensity not because they are inevitable but because we speak more of peace and care less for it. And so, even as the forces of globalization we have unleashed compel us to live together in shrinking space and time, we conspire as individuals and nations to stay apart. Through fierce and often unfair competition for material gain, we sacrifice precious relationships that hold together the bricks of our society. But we are reminded ever so often that in our interdependent world, there can be no gains at the cost of others. We prosper or suffer together.
And since our inadvertent choice, as compelled by the imperatives of our development models, is to suffer, we are succeeding in promoting causes of discontent at the personal and societal levels. Not only are we in conflict with each other, we are relentlessly and methodically destroying the ecosystem services that form earth’s life support system. 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?
Global warming is causing extreme weather events, natural calamities, destruction of life and property, crop failures, famine, displacement and diseases. Our financial and economic systems are falling apart and states are failing. Socially, families and communities are disintegrating to produce increasing crime, loneliness and mental diseases. It is ironic that material progress and economic gains should come at the cost of human security and threaten our very survival on the planet.
These and many other reasons, give us no cause for peace and happiness. But in the end, should happiness, which is a product of peace, not be the ultimate measure of human endeavor and advancement? Why then do we not make it the end of development and purpose of governance? Could it not be that the perils faced by humanity are the consequences of our having publicly trivialized this ultimate human value while in private, it is all that we strive for?
Mr. Chairman, It is with a sense of cautious optimism that my delegation wishes to report of the increasing dissatisfaction around the world with GDP focused development that has engendered unsustainable consumerism. There is now a serious search for a more comprehensive set of 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. In collaboration with researchers and institutions across the world, we continue to improve the set of indices we use to measure variations in the conditions that promote human wellbeing and the resultant level of individual and collective happiness.
The adoption of the resolution on happiness by the UN last year led to the High Level Meeting at the UN Head Quarters in April this year, attended not only by member delegations but by an array of thought leaders, scientists, leading economists and civil society. 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 have given an impetus to the active global search for a holistic, sustainable and inclusive development process at national, sub-national and, indeed, corporate levels in many countries. In this regard, I would like to report that in carrying out the mandate of the UN High Level Meeting to elaborate our proposal for a new development model, the international experts group commissioned by our 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. Bhutan will also participate actively in the efforts of the UNGA to define new goals for sustainable development. Beyond these, 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.
Mr. Chairman, these recent developments and many similar initiatives across diverse sections of our society around the world, give cause for optimism. These give me reason to believe that our 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.
When humanity is bound together by the pursuit of this shared dream and destiny around which public policies and relationships are crafted, causes for conflict will dissipate. And when it becomes our collective understanding that the attainment of this ultimate public good must come through living in harmony with nature that still has enough resources to be shared judiciously and equitably for sustained responsible growth and meaningful advancement, there will be peace. We will then discover together that the pursuit of true and meaningful prosperity need neither threaten our own survival nor that of future generations. We will realize that true wealth and wellbeing is of a kind that can flourish without cause for conflict within and among nations. If indeed, these were to happen, I believe we will find lasting peace and happiness.
Thank you and Tashi Delek.
PM Thinley delivered his keynote address on the second day of the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran on September 1, 2012