The Rise of Tamil Separatism in Sri Lanka: From Communalism to Secession, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Rise of Tamil Separatism in Sri Lanka

From Communalism to Secession, 1st Edition

By Gnanapala Welhengama, Nirmala Pillay


272 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781138665750
pub: 2016-03-03
SAVE ~$10.79
Hardback: 9780415854863
pub: 2014-02-24
SAVE ~$32.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203797181
pub: 2014-03-05
from $26.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


Among the examples of civil wars, armed secessionist movements and minority uprisings in the world today, many involve conflict between a minority group’s aim for political self-determination, and the nation state’s resistance to any diminution of sovereignty. With the expansion of the international regime of human rights, minority groups have reconceptualised their struggle with the understanding that a minority which is linguistically, religiously or ethnically distinctive is entitled to self-determination if their aspirations cannot be met.

This book explores the relationship between minority rights, self-determination and secession within international law, by contextualising these issues in a detailed case study of the rise of Tamil separatism in Sri Lanka. Welhengama and Pillay show how Tamil communalism hardened into secession and assess whether the Sri Lankan government has met its obligations with respect to the right to self-determination short of secession. Focusing on the legal and human rights arguments for secession by the Tamil community of the North and East of Sri Lanka, the book demonstrates how the language of international law and international human rights played a major role in the development of the arguments for secession. Through a close examination of the case of the Tamil’s secessionist movement the book presents valuable insights into why modern nation states find themselves threatened by separatist claims and bids for independence based on ethnicity.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. The Island and its People 3. The gift of Empire 4. The Dawn of Communalism 5. The role of Tamil Politicians of the time: The Ponnambalm Brothers 6. Winter of Discontent: Tamil Communalism 7. Politicians who championed communalism: G.G. Ponnambalm 8. The Emergence of Federalism 9. Edging Towards Secession. 10. Tamil separatism. Was it due to Sinhala Communalism? 11. Tamil Eelam by Virtue of Self-Determination 12. Devolution of Power as a Solution to the Ethnic Conflict of Sri Lanka 13. Conclusion

About the Authors

G. Welhengama is now retired but was previously principle of the Liverpool Community College. He was a lawyer and judge in Sri Lanka and also stood as an MP for the Rajapaksha party in Sri Lanka, before teaching at Liverpool John Moores University in the Faculty of Law.

Nirmala Pillay is senior lecturer in law at Liverpool John Moores University, UK.

About the Series

Routledge Research in International Law

The series offers a space for new and emerging scholars of international law to publish original arguments, as well as presenting alternative perspectives from more established names in international legal research.  Works cover both the theory and practice of international law, presenting innovative analyses of the nature and state of international law itself as well as more specific studies within particular disciplines. The series will explore topics such as the changes to the international legal order, the processes of law-making and law-enforcement, as well as the range of actors in public international law. The books will take a variety of different methodological approaches to the subject including interdisciplinary, critical legal studies, feminist, and Third World approaches, as well as the sociology of international law. Looking at the past, present and future of international law the series reflects the current vitality and diversity of international legal scholarship.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Comparative
LAW / International
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Human Rights
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / International
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Colonialism & Post-Colonialism
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Minority Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies