Activities 2019

New Publication

In July 2019 Michaela Windischgraetz and Rinzin Wangdi launched their book “The Black-Slate Edict of Punakha Dzong”, which provides an introduction to and a translation of an inscription from the 18th century engraved on black slates at Punakha Dzong. The inscription contains a legal code of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of the Bhutanese state.

Bhutanese faculty in Vienna

In August 2019 Tshering Dolkar, a junior lecturer from JSW Law, completed a one-month research stay at the Department of Prof. Iris Eisenberger at BOKU University. It was the first visit in a series of planned research stays of young Bhutanese faculty in Austria, with the aim of strengthening legal research in Bhutan. On 6 August 2019, Tshering Dolkar presented her research paper project on legal personhood in Environmental Law. She compared cases from different jurisdictions to discuss how treating natural objects as legal persons with rights and duties would impact Bhutanese Law. In her presentation, Tshering Dolkar showed that both the motives behind the examined cases and the respective legal consequences vary significantly.


Conference on Globalisation in Asia, Thimphu 2019

From July 17-19 2019 Michaela Windischgraetz attended a conference on “Public Law, Legal Orders & Governance – Regulating Globalisation in Asia”, organized by the University of Victoria, Canada and our partner university JSW Law. She presented a paper on “The Zhabdrung´s Law - Nation-building on Global Buddhist Ideas”. During the conference, Michaela Windischgraetz and Rinzin Wangdi launched their book “The Black-Slate Edict of Punakha Dzong”.

ISBS Conference, Oxford

From Jan 8-10, Michaela Windischgraetz attended the inaugural conference of the International Society for Bhutan Studies (ISBS) at Magdalen College, University of Oxford. She presented a paper on „Dispute settlement in a changing society“, exploring the reasons why Bhutanese citizens increasingly use court litigation to settle their disputes and what advantages traditional village mediation might still have.

Environmental Law at JSW Law

In February 2019, Iris Eisenberger taught the first part of a joint course on Environmental Law. Iris co-taught with Tshering Dolkar, a young Bhutanese faculty lecturer, who will eventually take over the course. This first part of the course focused on International Environmental Law. Tshering will continue with teaching the Bhutanese legislation on environmental matters and Armin Rosencranz, Professor at OP Jindal Global University in India, will complement the programme with case law studies.

Buddhist Legal History at JSW Law

In February 2019, Michaela Windischgraetz taught the first part of a course on Buddhist Legal History. She started with exploring the foundations of Buddhist Law in the law of ancient India as it appears in the Vinayas. After that, the focus shifted on pre-buddhist law in Tibet and the reception of Buddhist legal ideas in Tibet. Following the further development of law in Tibet, the implementation of law in Bhutan by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan, who as a Tibetan was heavily influenced by Tibetan legal thought, completed the course.

Visiting Scholar Lecture Series at the Research Center of JSW Law

On February 27, Michaela Windischgraetz gave a lecture on „Crime and Punishment in Pre-Buddhist Tibet“ at the Research Center of JSW Law. She introduced various important legal documents from the Old Tibetan Empire and discussed the impact Buddhism might have had on the Tibetan Law.

Activities 2018

Course on Jurisprudence and Statutory Interpretation

In August 2018, Stefan Hammer taught a course on jurisprudence and statutory Interpretation together with a Buthanese colleague, Tenzin Leewan. As contrasted with Buthanese legal history and its Buddhist background, the discussion of Western influences on legal thought, marked by a sharp distinction between morality and justice on the one side and positive law on the other, proved to be particularly interesting. Likewise, central elements of political philosophy could be contextualized by addressing central features of the Bhutan’s Constitutional and political system under a comparative perspective. As Bhutan understands itself as a country whose modernized legal system combines common law and civil law traditions, the idea and role of codification was another main topic. This offered opportunities also to discuss different theories of legal reasoning reflecting both legal traditions. Tenzin Leewan further deepened methodological aspects with a focus on judicial practice.

Conference on Gross National Happiness and Law 2018

On the 17th and the 18th of July 2018 the JSW School of Law hosted an inaugural conference on Gross National Happiness and Law in Thimphu. Bhutan's Constitution lists as a ´Principle of State Policy´ that its Government shall strive to promote those conditions that will enable the pursuit of Gross National Happiness. From our side three colleagues took part and gave their presentations: Wolfram Schaffar gave an overview on ´Alternative development strategies worldwide´, Stefan Hammer talked about ´Principles & Policies in a Written Constitution: Justiciability and Impact on the Legal Standing of the Citizens´ and Michaela Windischgraetz moderated a panel on Buddhism and Law, which explored the impact of Bhutan's Buddhist traditions on the practice of law in Bhutan.

Course on Human Dignity

In March/April 2018, Christina Binder taught a course on Human Dignity. Christina Binder co-taught with Stephan Sonnenberg and Dema Lham. Dema Lham, a senior Bhutanese faculty lecturer, will eventually take over the course.  The interdisciplinary course focused on human rights as centrally anchored in the concept of human dignity. It dealt with the functioning of the international system of human rights protection, the interplay of NGOs with other actors in human rights protection, domestic litigation, philosophical anthropological foundations of human rights as well as human responsibilities. The course included case studies and group work which should prepare students for Legal Clinics and the practical application of human rights which will be the focus of the fourth and fifth year of studies.


Panel with Professor Windisch-Graetz at the conference

Conference on Gross National Hapiness and Law

Visiting Scholar Lecture Series at JSW Law