Bhutan Legal Needs Assessment: Final Report

JSW Law Publishing Series

228 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2021

See all articles by Kristen DeRemer

Kristen DeRemer


Stephan Sonnenberg

Seoul National University - College of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 11, 2020


“What is Justice?”

With that short, but extremely complex question on our minds, four researchers from the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law (“JSW Law”) spent a combined eleven months visiting each of Bhutan’s twenty Dzongkhags. The Law School began to lay the foundations for this field research in 2016. Plans to conduct research of this nature grew from ongoing policy discussions about whether the 12th Five Year Plan (“FYP”) should specifically designate a “Justice Sector” for planning, fundraising, and monitoring purposes. In the interim, of course, there now exists such an integrated Justice Sector, and planning for that sector is now coordinated by the Royal Courts of Justice. As part of that planning process, Bhutan’s official planning body, the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) formally gave JSW Law the mandate to carry out this study.

The purpose of the study is three-fold: First, it is intended as a crucial initial step towards the development of a quantitative index to measure the effectiveness of Bhutan’s efforts to strengthen its Justice Sector, building on international but also, more importantly, local understandings of “justice.” Second, it is intended to inform JSW Law’s curriculum, ensuring that Bhutan’s next generation of lawyers are familiar with customary Bhutanese understanding of justice. Finally, it is intended to field test a methodology that can be used also in other countries hoping to answer similar questions with regard to their own justice systems.

Keywords: GNH, Bhutan, Justice, Law, Legal, Rule of Law, Index, Dignity, Customary, Traditional Dispute, Mediation, Entrepreneur, Development

Suggested Citation

DeRemer, Kristen and Sonnenberg, Stephan, Bhutan Legal Needs Assessment: Final Report (November 11, 2020). JSW Law Publishing Series, Available at SSRN:

Stephan Sonnenberg

Seoul National University - College of Law ( email )

San 56-1 Kwanak-gu, Shilim-dong
Seoul, 151-742
880-7578 (Phone)

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