In: Markus Mayer, Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake, Yuvi Thangarajah, eds. Building Local Capacities for Peace. New Delhi: Macmillan.
Since 1977 the influence of foreign aid and institutions administering foreign aid has spread to every corner of Sri Lankan society. Donor interventions now cover a wide range of issues. They are a powerful factor contributing to the integration of Sri Lankan society to the processes of globalisation. Despite this there are very few academic studies that have taken a closer critical look at foreign aid. Most seem to be happy to see it as a politically neutral mechanism that can be utilised to achieve various objectives.
The purpose of this paper is to pose a few fundamental questions, taking into account the recent interest of foreign aid in conflicts and conflict resolution. The main argument of the paper is that the present interest in conflict and conflict resolution is leading donors to get involved in a wide range of issues in developing countries. The objectives of development assistance have expanded from the traditional focus on economic development to cover governance, democracy, human rights, development of civil society and conflict resolution. The latest addition to this extensive menu is security sector reform. In all these resolving conflicts has become a central issue. For example even in the case promoting democracy and human rights one of the underlying objectives is to resolve conflicts.
The entry of conflict and conflict resolution as a major theme in development assistance has led to the emergence of an entire new field where development and security have been combined. This has redefined development to include taking care of security issues arising from internal conflicts. On the other side, security has been redefined to include development issues and broaden the scope of traditional national security. With this fusion of development and security into a single field, development assistance has taken upon itself an objective of total transformation of developing countries.
Secondly, most of these interventions are based on an ideological commitment to liberalism in politics and economics. There is an attempt to construct another utopia based on liberal values. Sometimes it even extends to seeing western developed capitalist countries as a model to which we all should aim. Although liberalism can give solutions to some of the specific problems faced by our societies, the ideological commitment to a liberal utopia ignores the contradictions and conflicts generated by these policies. It ignores the historical specificities of different societies and the possibility of varying historical trajectories even to achieve some of the liberal goals.
Sustaining a state in conflict: Politics of foreign aid in Sri Lanka, Colombo:ICES, (2018)
This study focuses on politics of foreign aid to Sri Lanka from developed countries of the West, Japan and multilateral agencies during the period 1977 to end of the armed conflict in 2009. This period is characterised by economic policies that emphasised liberal economic policies and an armed conflict resulting from the Tamil demand for a separate state. The study looks at politics of foreign aid in this context. Foreign aid played a dual role. It helped to sustain a state engaged in an armed conflict, while at the same time trying to promote a negotiated settlement. Therefore it was neither a do-gooder that liberals tend to believe nor a 'foreign devil that Sinhala nationalists like to see.
The politics of foreign Aid in Sri Lanka
(2007) Politics of foreign aid in Sri Lanka, Promoting markets and supporting peace. Colombo: International Centre for Ethnic Studies.
Can democracy be designed?
(2003) Co-editor, Can Democracy be Designed? London: Zed Books.
Devolution and Development in Sri Lanka
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Copyright @ 2023 Sunil Bastian.