The Slovenia Times

Slovenia to Celebrate 20 Years of UN Membership


Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, who were admitted to the UN on the same day, will mark the anniversary of this milestone with a joint reception and an exhibition at the UN headquarters in New York next week.

Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec already took the occasion to present on Wednesday in Ljubljana the future tasks and challenges of Slovenian foreign policy, while a symposium will be held in the capital on Friday, at which President Danilo Türk will be among the speakers.

Türk was the first Slovenian ambassador to the UN. He and his team helped secure the country a non-permanent term in the UN Security Council in the years 1998 and 1999.

This was a success for the young country, which could not repeat the feat in another attempt launched last year - Slovenia conceded to Azerbaijan after 16 rounds of voting.

After heading the Slovenian mission to the UN, Türk took over as an assistant to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, serving until 2005.

He has left a mark at the UN and is still mentioned as a potential candidate for the post of UN secretary general if member states honour the informal agreement that the next candidate will come from Eastern Europe.

Ernest Petrič, the incumbent president of the Constitutional Court, succeeded Türk as Slovenian ambassador to the UN. He was elected a member of the International Law Commission at the UN General Assembly in 2006, a feat he repeated in 2011.

In his term, the successor countries to the former Yugoslavia managed to reach an agreement on succession within the UN.

The first ten years of Slovenia's UN membership were marked by the issue of succession to the former common country, as Serbia, who initially laid claim to all rights stemming from the former Yugoslavia, only became a member in 2000.

With the UN continuing to demand debt payments from what was an abolished state, the succession issue dragged on until 2008, when the UN Secretariat cancelled the majority of the debt.

Slovenia's present ambassador to the US Roman Kirn succeeded Petrič in heading the Slovenian mission to the UN and was also one of the vice-presidents of the UN General Assembly in 2003 and 2004.

The incumbent head of mission to the UN Sanja Štiglic, whose term is expected to end this year, took over from Kirn, heading the mission in a demanding period during Slovenia's EU Council presidency.

Being a small country, which initially had no influence on global developments, Slovenia focused in its first years as UN member on areas that find little place in the media but are among the UN's key tasks.

Human rights, the rights of children, development issues, the environment, health care and cultural cooperation have been the main fields of activity for Slovenia in the UN.

In keeping with the UN Charter, Slovenia has actively striven for peaceful resolution of conflicts, a possible exception being its support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which opened the door to NATO membership in 2004.

Slovenia is participating in UN peace missions with soldiers, military observers and police officers. It has also been a regular contributor to the budget of the global organisation, although it has had some problems with payments to the budget for peace operations since 2010.

Efforts in the area of human rights brought Slovenia membership of the newly established UN Human Rights Council in 2007. Ban Ki-moon became the first UN secretary general to visit Slovenia in 2008.

Slovenia was or still is active in different UN commissions, committees and other bodies, including the International Law Commission, the Commission on Sustainable Development, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNICEF and the UN Development Programme.


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