If you are a potential client seeking urgent support or advice, please also consider contacting the Royal Bhutan Police at 113.

HDC Vision:

In order to ensure that all people in Bhutan will continue to benefit from the vision of His Majesty the Fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, of a country in pursuit of Gross National Happiness (GNH), not Gross National Product (GNP), the Human Dignity Clinic will be Bhutan’s primary laboratory for generating practical know-how about how to make use of the law to promote universal respect for human dignity and human rights in Bhutan.

Initially and unless subsequently amended, the primary focus of the HDC will be on four categories of vulnerable individuals in Bhutan, specifically (1) women, (2) children and young people (ages 0-24), (3) the elderly, (4) persons living with disability, whom the HDC serves without bias and fear of reputational consequences as long as they are physically present in Bhutan.

HDC Mission: Pedagogical Impact

JSW Law’s HDC teaching mission is to train JSW Law students how to understand, respectfully interact with, and advocate on behalf of Bhutan’s most vulnerable populations. The HDC teaches its students to use the law and other dispute resolution processes to improve the lives of their clients, inculcates a professional ethic of client-centered lawyering and advocacy, and trains its students to be self-reflective about their own role as agents of change in their clients’ lives. The HDC uses a variety of interactive teaching methods, simulations, and real-world experiential practice, all under the supervision of faculty supervisors working in constructive collaboration with their students.

HDC Mission: Social Impact

JSW Law’s HDC Clinic advances the well-being and basic human dignity of Bhutan’s most vulnerable populations. The Clinic provides free, high-quality legal representation to four initial categories of vulnerable individuals: (1) women, (2) children and young people (ages 0-24), (3) the elderly, and (4) persons living with disability. The HDC focuses on individuals whose basic human dignity has been compromised, and who cannot afford to seek professional representation on the open market. In some cases, this involves providing our clients with high-quality legal representation. In others, student and faculty supervisors work with clients, partnered non-profit organizations, and government institutions to shed light on systemic problems leading to increased vulnerability, and to promote corresponding legal or policy remedies. In all cases, students and faculty work not only to rehabilitate and affirm the human dignity of their individual clients, but also to cultivate healthier, happier and more cohesive communities, consistent with Bhutan’s guiding vision GNH.

HDC Mission: Academic Impact

There are many law clinics around the world that focus on the promotion of human rights. Only a very small subset of those defines their legal work in terms of human dignity (suggesting that human suffering must not always be the result of an intentional breach of a right by a government or some other duty-bearer, but that such indignities can nonetheless be the legitimate focus of collective problem solving and lawyering). But there are none that operate in a country where policymaking is guided by the pursuit of GNH. This concept – which has deeply influenced international thinking about the end-goal of development – also has a profound impact on the way lawyers think about the role of the law itself. This clinic serves as a laboratory where students and faculty grapple with the practical challenges (and particularly the opportunities) of using the law to promote human dignity in a GNH-policy environment. Working closely with JSW Law’s research centers and other, non-clinical faculty, the HDC distills and promotes that learning for dissemination in Bhutan and beyond.

Student Practice:

During their first semester of clinic, students in the HDC work to advise individuals or communities who have seen their fundamental right to human dignity compromised in some important way. Students will be trained to advise their clients about legal, as well as informal, strategies to resolve their grievances. In their second semester, students will also be involved in larger-scale documentation and policy projects designed to illustrate systemic threats to human dignity in Bhutan, and to work directly with concerned stakeholders to develop innovative, realistic, and evidence-based solutions to these issues.

To contact the HDC, or to explore a potential partnership with the HDC involving JSW Law’s clinical students and faculty, please contact the HDC’s Director, Ms. << Dema Lham >>.

If you are a potential client seeking urgent support or advice, please also consider contacting the Royal Bhutan Police at 113.

While JSW Law offers students a choice between three distinct legal clinics, each with their own pedagogy and substantive focus, the pedagogy is also uniquely cross-disciplinary. Each clinic has its own associated seminar, however students from one clinic frequently join their colleagues in one of the other clinics for certain skills workshops that pertain to lawyering in more than just that one clinic’s substantive focus area. These integrated skills workshops are designed to cultivate a collective professional ethic as a lawyer, rather than a more insular sense of ethics based the kind of law one happens to be practicing. Furthermore, students also use a structured group consultation process (clinic “rounds”) to collectively discuss and strategize about their client work with colleagues across each of the three clinics, thus encouraging a broadminded and multidisciplinary approach to their work with clients.