Push Back

Sri Lanka's Dance with Global Governance

Judith Large


Shows how the Rajapaksa government in Sri Lanka was adept at deflecting international criticism, as well as the wider implications for human rights and international peacemaking.

In 2009, after decades of conflict, the Sri Lankan government proclaimed the decisive defeat of the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Elam. Subsequently, the state proved resistant to attempts by the UN and other international bodies to promote post-war reconciliation or reform.

In this incisive new work, Judith Large investigates the ways in which the Rajapaksa government was able to subvert international diplomatic efforts, as well as exploring the wider context of rising Sinhalese nationalism, the attendant growth of discrimination against minorities, and efforts by both the diaspora and citizens within Sri Lanka to work towards a positive peace.

Push Back is vital reading not only for those interested in Sri Lanka, but also for those concerned about the wider implications of the conflict for human rights, peace-making, and geopolitics.

Author Bio

Judith Large is a senior research fellow at the Conflict Analysis Research Centre at the University of Kent. She has over twenty-five years experience in international conflict analysis, mediation and peace building, ranging from work with civic groups and national governments to UN agencies including the UNHCR, UNDP, BCPR, WHO, and others.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: reflections on ‘optics’ – Sri Lanka and dilemmas in the study of violence and global governance
  • 1 War’s end and competing models for recovery
  • 2 Executive presidency and the unitary state
  • 3 Non-interference Sri Lankan style
  • 4 The outsiders
  • 5 Majoritarianism or divide and rule
  • 6 Home-grown solutions and the quest for accountability
  • 7 Small state in a large system


‘The first serious academic study of the Rajapaksa regime’s manipulation of the international system, which enabled them to preside over mass atrocities and get away scot free.’
Frances Harrison, former Sri Lanka correspondent for the BBC and author of Still Counting the Dead: Survivors of Sri Lanka's Hidden War

‘Sheds new light on how the government got away with outrageous human rights violations, even after the war.’
Sanjana Hattotuwa, Centre for Policy Alternatives (Sri Lanka)

‘Filled with sharp insights, Pushback will help us all have a better sense of where Sri Lanka may be headed.’
Alan Keenan, Sri Lanka Project Director, International Crisis Group

‘A brilliant exposition of the end game in the Sri-Lankan civil war.’
Kevin Clements, University of Otago

‘Essential reading for those wishing to understand the decades-long conflict in Sri Lanka, the quest for accountability, and the challenges of building peace.’
Chandra Lekha Sriram, University of East London

'Few inquiries have offered the theoretically incisive lens adopted here … Combing a nimble, Foucauldian conceptualization of the rapidly changing landscape of "global governance" and notions of "illiberal peacebuilding".'
Matthew Godwin, Journal of South Asian Development

'The book strikes an excellent balance between accessibility of style and empirical rigour … a satisfying combination of facts and rigorous analysis that will be a vital source for anyone engaging in research, development or policy work in Sri Lanka now and in the future.'
Commonwealth and Comparative Politics


Publication Date: 15 December 2016
304 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783606542
Hardback: 9781783606559
eBook ePub: 9781783606573
eBook PDF: 9781783606566
eBook Kindle: 9781783606580

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