Here There Be Dragons! Buddhist Constitutionalism in the Hidden Land of Bhutan

18 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2014

Date Written: June 27, 2014


There has been a rise of theocratic constitutional orders in the last century. These constitutional theocracies adhere to the core elements of modern constitutionalism but enshrine religion as a source of public law. Despite its claims to ‘secularity’, Bhutan presents to the world a unique model of Buddhist constitutionalism quite unlike secular Western states or theocratic Islamic states. In Bhutan, the distinction between religion and politics is merely formal, under a Dual System of religion and politics, which are united in the person of the Druk Gyalpo (King of Bhutan). The Bhutan Constitution establishes a relationship of mutual interdependence between religion and state, establishing the Buddhist monastic order and governing part of its internal organisation. Though Buddhism is not the official religion, Buddhist values are constitutionally enshrined as a source of public law, which the state aggressively promotes and protects; it has proven intolerant towards religious minorities. Bhutan, in fact, bans the public practice of religions other than Buddhism and Hinduism, criminalises proselytisation, and uses education as a means to inculcate Buddhist values in students.

Suggested Citation

Lee, Darius, Here There Be Dragons! Buddhist Constitutionalism in the Hidden Land of Bhutan (June 27, 2014). Australian Journal of Asian Law, 2014, Vol 15 No 1, Article 2: 17-34, Available at SSRN:

Darius Lee (Contact Author)

Characterist LLC ( email )

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Singapore, 308900
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