A collection of scholarly essays marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Sri Lankan Republic in 1972.
Edited by Asanga Welikala.
The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) was formed in the firm belief that there is an urgent need to strengthen institution and capacity-building for good governance and conflict transformation in Sri Lanka and that non-partisan civil society groups have an important and constructive contribution to make to this process. The primary role envisaged for the Centre in the field of public policy is a pro-active and interventionary one, aimed at the dissemination and advocacy of policy alternatives for non-violent conflict resolution and democratic governance. Accordingly, the work of the Centre involves a major research component through which the policy alternatives advocated are identified and developed.
The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) occupies the liberal position in the pluralistic setup of the political foundations in Germany. The Foundation’s work focuses on the core values of freedom and responsibility. Through its projects FNF contribute to a world in which all people can live in freedom, human dignity and peace. Together with its partners - liberal political parties, think tanks and other non-governmental organisations - FNF supports the emergence of democratic institutions based on the rule of law, and the development of a market economy. By promoting well proven liberal concepts FNF also contribute to increasing people‘s opportunities to work for their own prosperity.
“The people cannot decide until someone decides who are the people.” - Sir Ivor Jennings, 1956
“The Constitution was ceremoniously adopted…to the beating of drums and the sounding of conch shells…It was a great occasion for the people of Sri Lanka as it was able to remove the last vestiges of colonialism…” - Sirimavo Bandaranaike, 2005
“The Constitution has given everything to the Sinhalese and has given nothing to the Tamils.” - S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, 1972
In 2012, Sri Lanka marked the fortieth anniversary of the founding of its republic. With the promulgation of the first republican constitution on 22nd May 1972, Ceylon severed its remaining constitutional links with Britain that had survived the grant of independence as a dominion in 1948.
Both the process adopted in the making of that constitution as well as its substance were historic – a decisive ‘constitutional moment’ – reflecting dramatic political currents that had dominated the late-colonial and post-independence period. It established a constitutional order that has, despite being replaced by a second republican constitution in 1978, retained its essential substantive character as a highly centralised unitary state to the present.
In terms of both the consolidation of constitutional democracy and in addressing the challenges of ethnic, religious and cultural pluralism that post-war Sri Lanka must settle in order that causes of past conflict are not reproduced in the future, the historical, political and constitutional issues that prevailed in 1972 are as relevant as ever.
This two-volume edited collection brings together a series of reflections on those issues by a distinguished group of Sri Lankan and international scholars from multiple disciplines as well as political practitioners, with a view to informing the contemporary debate on strengthening democracy, constitutionalism, and reconciling the constitutional form of the Sri Lankan state with its rich societal pluralism.