The following information reports U.S. government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in the Kingdom of Bhutan to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Bhutan's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the 2009 Report on International Religious Freedom at 2009-2017.state.gov.
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
Bhutan has transitioned from a hereditary monarchy to a constitutional monarchy with a parliament over the last three years. The U.S. government strongly supported this transition, and is now focused on helping to strengthen Bhutan's fledgling democratic institutions and finding a durable solution to the issue of the 83,000 Bhutanese refugees currently residing in camps in Nepal. The U.S. government is expanding its informal relations with the country even though Bhutan has chosen not to open formal diplomatic relations with any of the permanent members of the UN Security Council at this time.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human
Rights and Democratic Governance
U.S. officials encourage Bhutan to improve respect for civil liberties, including freedom of assembly, and protection for minority populations. U.S. officials reiterate the importance of finding a lasting solution--including repatriation, local integration, and resettlement--for the refugees in Nepal.
The U.S. Government promotes democratic values, political processes, freedom of the press, educational reforms, and judicial independence by sponsoring several citizens to travel to the United States under the Fulbright, Humphrey, and International Visitor Leadership Programs. The U.S. Government sends candidates from Bhutan to participate in military and non-military training courses in the United States.
Through its South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy program, the USAID provided the Bhutanese government with the only official U.S. Government assistance Bhutan receives.
U.S. officials discuss human rights issues, including religious freedom, during their meetings with Bhutanese officials, including those based in Bhutan's Embassy in New Delhi. The United States sent an observer delegation to April's South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Summit hosted for the first time by Bhutan.