Introducing the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law

Her Highness Appoints Founding Dean, Vice Dean

Dignitaries from across Bhutan’s legal sector gathered on Tuesday, 10th May 2016 (coinciding with the 4th day of the 4th month of the Bhutanese calendar), to dedicate Bhutan’s first law school to the legacy of the Fourth King, His Majesty Jigme SingyeWangchuck.

In a day-long naming ceremony, the Honourable President of the law school, Her Royal Highness Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, announced that the law school would henceforth be known as the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law, or “JSW Law.” The ceremony began with signing of appointment and naming orders, followed by the Dean and Vice Dean receiving Dhar (ceremonial scarves) and the appointments from the Honourable President.

The Honourable President also announced that the law school would be led by Mr. Sangay Dorjee as Founding Dean and Mr. Michael Peil as Vice Dean.

The ceremony was attended by three members of the law school’s Governing Council, Chief Justice Lyonpo TsheringWangchuck, the Attorney General Dasho Shera Lhendup, and the CEO of the Office of Performance Management, His Majesty’s Secretariat, Mr. Karma Yonten. 

His Majesty, the fourth King was the father of the Bhutanese Constitution, calling in 2001 for the replacement of Bhutan’s absolute monarchy with a constitutional monarchy, marked by strong and independent democratic institutions. His Majesty personally led a years-long research and national public awareness campaign in support of the Constitution, which led eventually to its adoption by public referendum in July 2008.

His Majesty abdicated in favour of his son, the present King, in December 2006.

His Majesty, the fourth King is also the author of the term, “Gross National Happiness,” (GNH) the alternative development strategy by which Bhutan has for more than thirty years measured its societal, economic and national progress. The law school has dedicated part of its research mission to exploring the intersections between law and GNH.

The law school will open its doors in July 2017, with the admission of its first class.

Dean Sangay Dorjee has served for more than three years as Director of the Royal Law Project, the Royal initiative to found the law school.  Prior to this, he served with distinction for several years as a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources.

Vice Dean Michael Peil has served as a consultant to the Royal Law Project for more than three years.  Prior to his arrival in Bhutan, Dean Peil worked at the Law School at Washington University in St. Louis (USA) and as Executive Director of the International Law Students Association (ILSA).

The formal naming ceremony was observed with Zhugdrel and an address by the Honourable President, followed by a luncheon and cultural presentation.  In the afternoon, the law school's office was opened to friends and the public to congratulate and offer Khadar (white scarf of good wishes) to the Dean and the Vice Dean.