Decentralization, Federalism and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka

  • Christine Bigdon (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


Since the 1990s ethnic violence within states has become much more common than interstate violence and tends to be harder to stop, leading to the question, how states can avoid ethnic violence and best accommodate multiple ethnicities within their boundaries. The worldwide increase of inner-state civil wars or complex emergencies has set peace and conflict studies high on the agenda of development and foreign policy debate. A central question in the theoretical debate is the consolidation and arrangements of democratic systems and institutions in ethnically heterogeneous societies, to prevent and resolve violent conflicts. In this recent debate there is still a lack of empirical research, analysing the opportunities and obstacles of conflict resolving political structures, processes and institutions in more depth. This paper therefore aims to contribute to the recent debate on conflict preventive/transforming arrangements of democratic systems by discussing proposals on federal restructuring and devolution of the political system in Sri Lanka as well as by looking into the realities of recognition of minorities at local level.


Sri Lanka, Ethnic Conflict, Federalism, Devolution