The Department’s mandate is to foster and strengthen goodwill and understanding between Bhutan and all countries with which it engages in bilateral interaction and cooperation. It ensures that Bhutan’s relations with all countries are pursued in a manner that is consistent with the country’s principles and values as well as its social, economic and political priorities.
Towards this end, it contributes actively to the pursuit of meaningful and productive bilateral relations through robust and rigorous policy analysis and recommendation on all spheres of engagement. In doing so, it identifies, strengthens and consolidates new and existing areas of cooperation while concurrently deepening the scope and breadth of Bhutan’s diplomatic network abroad. The Department’s work aims to enhance Bhutan’s standing as a sovereign, responsible and committed member of the international community pursuing sustainable development and wellbeing for its people while fostering peace, solidarity and security for all nations on an equal footing.
Mr. Sonam Tobgay has been the Director of the Bilateral Department since February 2019. He joined the Ministry in 1994 and has served in various capacities. This includes as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi; Consul General & Minister Counselor at the Permanent Mission of Bhutan to the UN in New York; Chief of Policy Planning Division; and Chief of International Organizations Division in Thimphu. He also briefly served as Charge d’Affaires at the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Kuwait and as Second Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Bhutan to the UN in Geneva.
He received his BA from Delhi University, MA in Diplomacy & MA in Public Policy from the Australian National University, and his MPA from Harvard University. In 2014, he took a sabbatical and was a Fellow with the McCain Institute for International Leadership during which he worked with the Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. Currently, he is also Vice Chair of the Board of the Bhutan Civil Aviation Authority and an Advisory Council Member of the Bhutan Foundation.
He is married to Tshering Ohm Dorji and they have two sons. His hobbies include reading, farming and hiking.
Divisions and their mandates
The Department consists of three Divisions: Asia and the Pacific Division (APD), Europe, Americas and Africa Division (EAAD), and South Asia and the Middle East (SAME) Division. The three Divisions under the Department are responsible for promoting and strengthening bilateral relations between Bhutan and countries within the geographic zones and sub-regions assigned to each Division. Each division consists of several desks which work closely with all domestic and foreign counterparts to manage bilateral relations for respective countries under their purview.
The key responsibilities of the Desks are as follows:
- Provide political oversight on matters pertaining to bilateral engagement with countries in their region;
- Coordinate bilateral engagement with key domestic partners to suit the needs and priorities of Bhutan and the partner countries;
- Ensure a coordinated approach to our positions pertaining to friendly countries in the assigned region.
South Asia and the Middle East Division
South Asia & the Middle East Division (SAME) oversees all matters related to SAARC member countries and the Middle East. The Chief of SAME supervises three Desks: India, Middle East and South Asia Desks. These Desks are currently manned by the following officers:
Asia and the Pacific Division
Asia and the Pacific Division oversees all countries within the region, particularly China, Japan, South Korea, and the ASEAN bloc. The Chief of APD supervises the work of three Desks: China, Australia and the Pacific Island Desk (APD Desk); the South East Asian Desk (ASEAN) and Japan, South Korea and Central Asian Desk (East Asia Desk). These Desks are currently manned by the following officials:
Europe, Americas and Africa Division
EAAD is responsible for promoting and strengthening Bhutan’s relations and engagements with countries in Africa, Americas and Europe. The Division covers more than 113 countries in these regions. The Chief of EAAD supervises three Desks. The Desks are manned by the following officers:
|Ms. Tshewang Chezom||Personal Assistant to Director||tchezom @ mfa.gov.bt|
|Ms. Tendri Wangmo||Administrative Assistant||twangmo @ mfa.gov.bt|