RENEW announces JSW Law-supported Consensus Building Programme

Faculty from the JSW Law clinic today joined Respect.Educate.Nurture.Empower.Women (RENEW), the National Commission on Women and Children (NCWC), the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) to launch a 410-page Consensus Building Facilitation Manual.

JSW Law’s Honourable President, Her Royal Highness Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, launched the publication at a ceremony marking International Women’s Day at the Royal Banquet Hall in Thimphu, Bhutan. “We are proud and honoured to have played a small role in the development of Bhutan’s capacity to respond effectively and with humanity to those affected by domestic violence in our country,” said Ms. Dema Lham, senior lecturer and director of the Human Dignity Clinic.

JSW Law’s inaugural class of 2022 also attended the event.

The publication of the Facilitation Manual marks an important milestone for the Law Clinics at JSW Law. For more than a year, the Law Clinics at JSW Law have been collaborating with RENEW to design a new dispute resolution process designed specifically to handle so-called “less serious” instances of domestic violence, as defined by Section 22 of Domestic Violence Prevention Act of Bhutan 2013. JSW Law’s Human Dignity Clinic, as well as its Appropriate Dispute Resolution Clinic, worked closely with RENEW, the RBP, the Bhutan National Legal Institute (BNLI), NCWC, and other specialists in the justice sector to help design an innovative “hybrid” dispute resolution process, combining elements of the formal and the informal dispute resolution processes in Bhutan.

The result is RENEW’s consensus building process, which brings together the strengths of Bhutan’s formal justice system (accountability, strong statements about the illegality of all forms of domestic violence, and public scrutiny) with the equally important characteristics of Bhutan’s informal dispute resolution traditions (accessibility, human-centeredness, and flexibility). The process represents an innovative cross-sectoral collaboration between the RBP and a civil society organization and allows victims and survivors of domestic violence to retain maximal ownership over how their cases are resolved. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the RBP and RENEW, detailing the relationship and referral pathways, was officially signed on 9 February 2017.

The launch of the Facilitation Manual marks the start of a nationwide initiative to train hundreds of RBP officers and RENEW volunteers on the workings of this new consensus building process. “The law clinics at JSW Law are looking forward to continue working on this important initiative, and are proud of our ongoing relationship with RENEW, the RBP and other justice sector stakeholders.” said Stephan Sonnenberg, Assistant Professor and Associate Dean of Experiential Education & Clinics. “We look forward to more hard work ahead.”

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