Singapore Became the 117th member of the United Nations
#onthisday, 21 Sep, in 1965, Singapore became the 117th member of the United Nations (UN). As a young nation, it was critical for Singapore to be recognised as a sovereign and independent state.
Our application on 3 Sep was sponsored by Malaysia, the UK, Jordan, and Ivory Coast. With no objections at the Security Council on 20 Sep and the unanimous support from the General Assembly a day later, we were officially part of the UN.
In then-Minister for Foreign Affairs S. Rajaratnam’s speech thanking the General Assembly, he said that for Singapore, “the essentials of the [UN] Charter are the preservation of peace through collective security, promotion of economic development through mutual aid and the safeguarding of the inalienable right of every country to establish forms of government in accordance with the wishes of its own people.”
He emphasised that, as a small state, Singapore needed both the UN as well as its own defences for peace and security, and highlighted the importance of peace for survival. Being in the UN was also a step for Singapore to gain our footing in the world. Its soft loans and technical assistance helped in our economic and infrastructure development.
56 years later, we contribute to UN agencies and participate in peacekeeping missions across the world. We’ve advocated for small states, leading the formation of the Forum of Small States in 1992. We’ve also played a role in advocating for keeping sea lines of communication open, and presided over the the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) from 1981-82.
The UN has been a platform for dialogue and strengthening cooperation in the international community – in which Singapore will continue to play a part.