The Republic of Bulgaria was accepted as a member of the United Nations (UN) on December 14, 1955.
By participating in the annual sessions of the UN General Assembly, the forums held under the auspices of the UN, and the work of various bodies of the organisation, Bulgaria contributes to the promotion of effective multilateralism, trust, security and mutually beneficial cooperation in international relations.
Bulgaria supports the process of reforms in the institutional architecture of the UN, launched by the UN Secretary General (SG) Antonio Guterres in 2017, in three interrelated areas: governance, peace and security, and sustainable development.
We see the reform of UN governance as a key element and a decisive factor in the overall process of reforming the World Organisation. In the framework of the intergovernmental negotiation process, Bulgaria supports the need to reform the UN Security Council (SC) in order to adapt it to the new realities in the world. The key issues that remain to be addressed are: the categories of membership in the Council, the right to veto, the regional representation (we insist on enlarging the Council with another country from the Eastern European Regional Group), the total number of members of the enlarged SC, as well as its methods of work.
Bulgaria also supports the revitalisation processes of the General Assembly (GA) and the decisions to improve the process of electing the UN General Assembly. We participate in the search for opportunities for: streamlining the General Debate at the opening of the GA sessions; improving the working methods of the main committees of the GA; improving the work of the Cabinet of the President of the GA in the transition from one presidency to another, gender equality and better geographical distribution of posts in the UN system.
Our country supports the proposals of the UN General Assembly to reform the "peace and security" pillar of the UN Secretariat. Together with the other EU member states, Bulgaria supports the vision of "raising diplomacy in favour of peace" combining it with the concept of sustaining peace and the effective use of preventive diplomacy tools, such as UN special political missions and UN mediation. We believe that they must be at the heart of the World Organisation's efforts to ensure peace and security.
Bulgaria promotes the long-term goal of the reform of the Peace and Security Pillar, namely to increase the effectiveness of regional strategies for conflict prevention by deepening cooperation between the UN and the EU and other international and regional organisations.
Peacekeeping and peacebuilding
Bulgaria contributes to the UN's efforts to maintain international peace and security through its participation with police personnel in the UN peacekeeping missions in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and Kosovo (UNMIK) and its active work within the Group of Friends of Mediation.
Our country provides political support and voluntary financial contributions to the UN's preventive and mediation activities in the Western Balkans region and in support of the World Organization's humanitarian activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.
In view of the need to adequately address the growing asymmetric and complex challenges to international peace and security, Bulgaria supports the expansion of UN partnerships with the EU, NATO, the OSCE and the African Union in the field of peacekeeping and peacebuilding, with a view to greater efficiency, eliminating duplication and saving resources.
Women, peace and security
As a co-author of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, Bulgaria attaches priority to issues related to women and girls’ participation in all areas of socio-political, economic and social life.
On March 19, 2020, by Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 185, the first “National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security for the period 2020-2025” was adopted, which made Bulgaria the 84th UN member state to adopt such a strategic document.
The process of preparation of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2020-2025 was initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and carried out in consultation with Ireland, which offered to share its valuable experience and expertise as one of the leading countries in the implementation of Resolution 1325 of the UN SC.
The National Action Plan is devised in four sections: 1) Prevention; 2) Participation; 3) Protection; 4) Prioritisation. They are interconnected and interdependent, determining the results that Bulgaria will strive to achieve within a five-year period.
The plan includes indicators to measure the results to be achieved in the short, medium and long term. The results expected relate to the achievement of equality between women and men, the empowerment of women and their more active role in the processes of conflict prevention and resolution, including peace building. The activities provisioned are allocated between the various competent institutions, departments, and organisations. The financial provision complies with the funds provided within their budgets. A mid-term review of what has been achieved in 2022 is planned.
Structures of the UN system
· UN Human Rights Council (HRC)
The Human Rights Council (HRC) is an intergovernmental body within the UN system having a leading role in the promotion and protection of human rights around the world and in dealing with crime offences. It involves 47 countries elected by the UN General Assembly.
Bulgaria was a member of the HRC for the period 2019-2021. This role enabled our country for the first time to influence the processes related to human rights and the adoption of resolutions with specific obligations for UN member states. Bulgaria remains committed supporter of the independence of UN human rights structures, as well as to working for the protection of the rights of the child, equality between women and men, the rights of persons with disabilities, the establishment of tolerant societies, etc., taking into account the commitments related to the Sustainable Development Goals.
· United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
Founded in 1997 and based in Vienna, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime. It operates worldwide through a wide network of local offices to better address a coordinated, comprehensive response to issues related to drug trafficking and abuse, crime and criminal justice prevention, international terrorism and political corruption. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is a functional commission of ECOSOC, established by ECOSOC Resolution 9 (I) in 1946. In 1991, the UN General Assembly extended the mandate of the CND so that it could function as the governing body of UNODC.
Bulgaria participates in the international cooperation under the auspices of the UNODC and the CND, actively promoting the principles and values of the EU in the global political debate. Bulgaria upholds the principles and objectives of the Final Document of the Special Session of the UN General Assembly in 2016 (UNGASS 2016), which focuses on public health and human rights, and considers it fundamental in the development of international policy in this field. Balancing a solid law enforcement framework with comprehensive health and social services, from prevention to rehabilitation, is a way to address the many new challenges in the fight against drugs.
· World Health Organisation (WHO)
The World Health Organization (WHO) was established on April 7, 1948, with its headquarters in Geneva, and now it has six regional offices and 150 country offices. Its main activities are aimed at providing universal health coverage and better health and well-being of the population. Bulgaria has been a co-founder and member of the WHO since 1948. Cooperation with the WHO is based on two-year cooperation agreements.
Among the priorities of Bulgaria's cooperation with the WHO are the creation of lifelong healthy conditions for all, development and management of a fair and efficient health system, strengthening the capacity of public health, as they are set out in the two-year cooperation agreement between the Ministry of Health and the Regional Office of the WHO for Europe in Copenhagen for the period 2018-2019.
During the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, along with the common priorities for the region such as fulfilling the commitments in the field of non-communicable diseases, creating conditions for healthy living for all and strengthening the capacity of public health, the focus was on healthy eating for children and pharmaceutical policies with an emphasis on the affordability, effectiveness and social tolerance of medicines.
· International Labour Organisation (ILO)
Founded on April 11, 1919 by a decision of the Paris Peace Conference as an autonomous intergovernmental organisation, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is the only organisation that outlived the League of Nations to become a specialised agency of the United Nations after World War II. The ILO is an organisation with a unique structure - it was founded and operates on the principle of tripartism (governments, trade unions, employers' representatives). It adopts international labour standards in the form of conventions and recommendations establishing minimum standards of fundamental labour rights. Bulgaria has been a member of the ILO since December 6, 1920, and the Minister of Labour and Social Policy represents the government in the Organisation and in its governing bodies.
Priorities of the cooperation of the Republic of Bulgaria with the ILO are the development and deepening of the tripartite cooperation and the effective dialogue with the social partners in the field of employment and social policy. Bulgaria, as a country with a strong commitment to the protection of labour rights, has ratified the eight fundamental ILO conventions (in the field of forced labour, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, equality and non-discrimination in terms of pay, employment and occupation, the minimum age for employment and the most severe forms of child labour).
· United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) was established in 1946 with the establishment of the UN General Assembly. UNICEF's priority areas of activity are: guaranteeing every child’s security, shelter, food, equality; protection against disasters and conflicts; poverty alleviation and eradication; promotion and support of children's health care. UNICEF played an important role in the preparation and adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in force for our country since July 3, 1991.
Among the main priorities of the cooperation of Republic of Bulgaria with UNICEF are the reform in the field of juvenile justice, early juvenile development, achieving sustainability of the deinstitutionalisation process, protection and promotion of the rights of children with disabilities. Internationally, Bulgaria shares its positive experience, expertise and good practices in the field of children's rights through joint projects with UNICEF in the Black Sea region (Georgia and Armenia) and the Western Balkans. We are actively working with the UN through the Group of Friends of Children and the Sustainable Development Goals, of which Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Jamaica are co-chairs, in order to include children's rights in all aspects of the Sustainable Development Program after 2015. Bulgaria and Pakistan are coordinators of the consultation process with Member States on the resolution on modalities marking the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2019.
· United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
The main activities of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) are:
· Education: improving the quality and efficiency of education /reform of secondary and higher education, use of new information technologies in secondary education/; equality in education, social cohesion and civic education, building a "culture of peace", tolerance and non-violence; technical and vocational education; inter-university cooperation;
· Natural sciences and ecology: biodiversity and conservation of natural resources; new and renewable energy sources; protection of water resources and adjacent ecosystems; seismological research - a priority for the Balkan region; phytochemistry, bioethics and bioengineering, human genome; artificial intelligence;
· Social sciences: application of ethics in science and technology; management of social transformations; the development of human rights, the fight against all forms of discrimination, racism and xenophobia and the resulting intolerance; problems of the most vulnerable social groups;
· Culture: protection and promotion of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage; measures against the illegal export of valuables; inclusion of Bulgarian sites in the representative lists of UNESCO for cultural values; intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity; modernisation of the material base of the Bulgarian culture; digitisation of cultural heritage and creation of a database in the field of culture; cultural tourism;
· Information and communication: Promoting the free movement of ideas and universal access to information and knowledge and to information and communication technologies, with an emphasis on freedom of expression; inclusion of Bulgarian sites in the Memory of the World Programme (digitalisation of written monuments); use of modern technologies for the purposes of education, science and culture.
The Republic of Bulgaria has been a member of UNESCO since 1956.
Bulgarian Youth Delegate Programme
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Association of Bulgaria (UNABG) jointly hold a competition for youth delegates within the framework of the Bulgarian Youth Delegate Programme. Every year two Bulgarian youths, participate in the decision-making process at the highest international level. They present the current challenges, priorities and needs of young persons in the country at the sessions of the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly and the Commission for Social Development of ECOSOC, and participate in processes of exchange of experience and good practices with delegates from other countries.