Staff Reporter

To commemorate the 41st Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The King and the law school’s foundation day, Jigme Singye Wangchuck (JSW) School of Law launched the inaugural volume of Journal of Gross National Happiness and Law at the Bhutan National Legal Institute in Thimphu today.

Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, the President of JSW School of Law graced the event.

The journal will be a periodical publication, devoted to the study of the complex interplay between Bhutan’s unique development paradigm — Gross National Happiness — and the rule of law.

According to a press release from JSW School of Law, the journal was conceived of by Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, who in 2015 proposed that the law school spearhead a global effort to investigate the relationship between GNH and the law as its primary, long-term research agenda.

“Her Royal Highness was inspired by Their Majesties, His Majesty The King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck,” stated the press release. “Their Majesties have always prioritised the happiness of the people as an important policy goal. Justice, harmony, the welfare of the people, and good governance are consistently cited as an essential part of GNH principles.”

The journal according to the press release proceeds from the premise that the GNH framework not only attempts to measure the happiness of people but also provides a framework for evaluating policies and government powers, while also regulating individual, social, and political relations.

JSW Law’s Professor Nima Dorji said, “His Majesty The King, in his address to the nation in 2018, rightly said our politicians contest the elections on their promises to strengthen the rule of law, ensure justice and promote good governance to ensure GNH.”

He said that there is a need to evaluate their performances based on the promises they make and that the journal would provide a platform to not only critically analyse their performance but also discuss GNH-based approaches to the rule of law, justice, good governance, among others.

The articles in the journal are contributed by JSW Law faculty and also by experts and scholars from around the world. It demonstrates the diverse ways in which GNH and the law are interconnected. “While some articles find remarkable positive relationships between GNH and certain areas of law, others describe shortcomings in the law and practice of Bhutan and other jurisdictions.”

The articles in the journal also describe multiple perspectives on the relationship between GNH and Law. Professor Michael Peil, the Vice Dean of JSW Law said, “This volume is only the first step on the exploration of the relationship between GNH and the law. Even at this early stage, we are already seeing exciting and provocative correlations, and we already predict ample opportunity for further exploration in future volumes.”

The Journal is the first serial offering by the JSW Law teaching and research faculty. It was edited by a team of faculty members from the school and includes papers presented at the Second International Conference on GNH and Law.

The conference was hosted virtually by JSW Law from November 11 to 13, 2020, coinciding with His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo’s 65th Birth Anniversary, the nation’s 12th Constitution Day, and GNH Day.

Sangay Dorjee, the Dean of JSW Law, said: “The law school has been fortunate to receive financial support from the government and Ford Foundation to organise the conference and also publish this Journal.”

In return, he said through the directed research agenda, the law school hopes to inform citizens and the government and promote an informed decision-making process. “Our ultimate goal is to ensure the adoption of GNH-based laws and fair and just administration of such laws to promote the happiness of the people”.