Law Schools

Harvard Law Fellow Is New Leader of Tibetan Government in Exile


Harvard Law School fellow Lobsang Sangay has won election as the new prime minister of Tibet’s government in exile.

Sangay, 43, won with 55 percent of the vote, according to the Harvard Crimson, a Harvard Law School press release and the BBC. The election follows the Dalai Lama’s announcement that he is giving up the political responsibilities of his job.

Tibetan expert Robbie Barnett of Columbia University says Sangay is an unknown whose ability to bring change will likely be limited. “Nothing is easy if one is running a government that no-one officially recognizes, that is under constant attack from China, and which relies on symbolic standing rather than actual authority,” he writes for the Time magazine blog Global Spin.

Sangay won the election, Barnett says, “by being young and speaking of new initiatives, by leveraging the name of his former university in America, and by making promises on the campaign trail.” He calls on Sangay to help Tibetans living in refugee settlements and to help upgrade educational standards in exile schools.

Sangay has never been to Tibet. His father, a Tibetan monk, escaped to India after the People’s Liberation Army stormed the region. He obtained an LLM from Harvard in 1996 and stayed on as a fellow researching Chinese-Tibetan issues.

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