UNDP and relevant institutions working towards a holistic justice system in Bhutan

Jul 25, 2016

UNDP Deputy RR with parliamentarians during a group work on SDG-GNH similarities.

UNDP and relevant institutions working towards a holistic justice system in Bhutan

25 July, Thimphu: To map and integrate a justice sector plan for 12th Five Year Plan (FYP), the Office of Attorney General (OAG), Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law, the Supreme Court and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are organizing a multi-sector consultation workshop starting today.

The two-day workshop supplements the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) efforts to formulate the guidelines for the next planning period. In order to bring relevant government agencies together to take ownership of the plan, the plan formulation will undergo an inclusive and participatory consultation.

In doing so, UNDP, along with its implementing partners, recognizes the need for the governance sector to holistically develop achievable benchmarks that is not just agency-specific but also relevant across the justice sector. 

Addressing the workshop, the Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk said that unlike the traditional norm of justice being associated only with peace, it is also intertwined to socio-economic growth and so, requires to be approached in a wholesome manner.

The Chief Justice further added that in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the rule of law and fair justice will be critical.

Goal 16 of the SDGs is aimed towards ensuring just, peaceful and inclusive societies. The consultation will help develop a list of smart indicators for the justice sector and a multi-sectoral justice strategy to assist agencies in achieving respective targets set against various indicators.

Encouraging participants from various agencies in the justice sector to work collaboratively, Attorney General Shera Lhendup said, “Instead of talking about the independence of institutions, we need to interlink justice between agencies as it cannot be looked at in isolation.”

He further advised that the consultative workshop should be used as a platform for the participants to reflect on their respective agencies’ weaknesses and come up with solutions. “We need to be practical and not philosophical”, he said.

To this, the participants expected the workshop to identify coordination mechanisms between agencies and also bring about perspectives on how the system works together. They said that each institution in the justice sector much understand one’s role to work collaboratively.

According to Lhaba Tshering from the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), a preliminary stakeholder consultation has already been done for the 12th five year planning process within which National Key Result Areas (NKRA) targeted towards justice have also been set.

It has been covered under categories such as public services, democracy and safe society. However, having said that, the results of the consultation are still in the preliminary stages and are subject to changes as GNHC continues its consultation with more agencies.

Based on the foundations laid by the two-day consultation process, a White Paper on Justice for Bhutan directed towards an over-arching strategy will be developed to map out the current scenario and framework for justice sector in the 12th plan document. The workshop is being financially and technically supported by UNDP Bhutan.

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Access to Justice is one of the priority areas for UNDP Bhutan’s Inclusive Governance portfolio. The Access to Justice which is part of the SDG 16 project promotes greater public awareness on legal rights and improves access to formal and informal justice.

This is achieved by through awareness on the country's legal framework and individual's rights; strategic planning and coordination on policy research and monitoring the administration of justice for women, poor and the disadvantaged groups.

The project is aligned to goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals which is dedicated to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, access to justice for all and to build effective and accountable institutions at all levels.

For more information, contact;

Namgay Wangchuk, Project Coordination Analyst, UNDP Bhutan: namgay.wangchuk@undp.org

Pushkar Chhetri, Communications Analyst, UNDP Bhutan: pushkar.chhetri@undp.org