Slovenia celebrating 30 years of UN membership

Ljubljana/New York – Thirty years ago to the day, Slovenia became a member of the UN. By joining the organisation, it became a sovereign and equal member of the international community, thus successfully exercising the right to self-determination. As this is a milestone in the country’s history, Slovenian Diplomacy Day is celebrated on this day.

President Borut Pahor will host a special ceremony at the Presidential Palace today to confer state decorations on several deserving individuals.

Diplomat Karl Bonutti will be honoured for his efforts to build Slovenia’s reputation in the US, Keith Miles, Slovenia’s first official representative in the UK, for setting up and strengthening Slovenia-UK relations, and the first member of the Slovenian community in Carinthia who was elected to the Austrian parliament, Karel Smolle, for strengthening Slovenia’s reputation in Austria.

Lojze Sočan, Slovenia’s first authorised representative in Brussels, will receive a state decoration for promoting Slovenia in EU institutions, and Ambassador Matjaž Šinkovec, Slovenia’s first permanent representative at NATO, for his contribution to the emerging Slovenian foreign policy.

On 5 May 1992, Slovenia was the first of the Yugoslav successor states to apply for UN membership. The application letter, sent by then President Milan Kučan to Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali, announced that the democratically elected Slovenian government was in full control of its territory and was pursuing a peaceful policy in accordance with the principles and objectives of this international organisation.

Membership was conditional on recognition by the majority of the world’s countries, and in particular by the members of the EU and the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Once this was achieved, on 22 May 1992, the General Assembly unanimously adopted Resolution 46/236, officially making Slovenia the 176th UN member state. Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were admitted on the same day.

During the first years of membership, Slovenia focused on collective security issues, with a particular focus on maintaining international peace and security in SE Europe. However, throughout its membership, it has been focusing on human rights, sustainable development and climate change as well.

Slovenia’s UN membership has moreover opened the door to more active participation in the most important UN funds, agencies and programmes. In February 1992, UNHCR opened a representative office in Slovenia, at a time when war was making a large number of refugees to flee from neighbouring Croatia and later from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Today, UNHCR has a regional office in Hungary, which is also responsible for Slovenia.

In 1997, Slovenia participated in a UN-led peacekeeping operation for the first time. The first Slovenian troops were deployed to the mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP), with the main tasks of observation, monitoring and intervention in incidents in the border area between the Greek- and Turkish-controlled parts of the island. The first deployment of Slovenian police officers was for the UN peacekeeping operation in East Timor in 2000.

Slovenia joined the Eastern European Regional Group, one of the UN’s five regional groups, in 1996 and is standing for election to the UN’s elected bodies within this group.

An important milestone was Slovenia’s election as a non-permanent member of the Security Council between 1998 and 1999. The country also stood for non-permanent membership in 2011, when it conceded to Azerbaijan after 16 rounds of voting and withdrew from the race.

Last year, Slovenia again formally announced its candidacy for non-permanent membership for the period 2024-2025. The Eastern European regional group holds one non-permanent seat during this period. In addition to Slovenia, Belarus is also a candidate. The General Assembly vote will take place in June 2023.

After the expiry of its non-permanent membership in 1999, Slovenia has twice been a member of the executive board of UNICEF and twice of the executive board of UNESCO. It has also been a member of the advisory board of the UN Development Fund for Women (Unifem). Slovenia has moreover been elected to the Human Rights Council twice.