Impossible Devolution? The Failure of Power-Sharing Attempts in Sri Lanka

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  • May 2015

    The concept of a ‘primordial homeland’ has been at the centre of Sri Lanka’s armed struggle, in which both Sinhalese and Tamil nationalisms have used claims of ancient and ethnically determined territories to justify their right to self-determination, territorial sovereignty and armed struggle. Through an analysis of historical power-sharing arrangements and the subsequent failures, this article will examine why there has been much difficulty in adapting power-sharing arrangements to the rigidity of the hegemonic ethnic order of Sri Lanka and how this, in turn, has had detrimental consequences for democratic stability and peace making. While recognising the role played by various international actors in pushing for power sharing in Sri Lanka, the article concludes with an analysis of India’s role in this debate, while analysing how devolution has become an important factor in shaping India’s foreign policy towards Sri Lanka.