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Constitutional Migrations in the Commonwealth: The Quebec Secession Reference and Sri Lankan Constitutional Discourse

  • Asanga WelikalaEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter aims to explore the influence of the Canadian Reference over the Sri Lankan Constitutional discourse. The legal issues concerning sub-state nationalism, the self-determination of peoples and secession that were dealt with by the Canadian Supreme Court in the Reference Re Secession of Quebec (1998) have been of central relevance to Sri Lankan constitutional debates for decades. Sri Lanka has struggled to find a viable constitutional settlement for the politico-territorial claims of its main minority Tamil people since before independence. The intricate balance that the Canadian Supreme Court struck between competing norms of international and constitutional law has, perhaps unsurprisingly, inspired Sri Lankan liberal federalists about the possibilities of a principled approach to a resolution of their own conflict. For them, the judgement not only clarified the key principles applicable to accommodating Tamil autonomy within a united Sri Lanka, but it also added normative depth, through the transferable discussion of the ‘unwritten principles’ of the Canadian constitution, to the design of the federal-type institutional architecture that is needed for a Sri Lankan settlement.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland, UK

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