Sri Lanka: Civil Society, the Nation and the State-building Challenge 105
This chapter examines the debate on civil society in Sri Lanka. This debate is important because it is deeply enmeshed with the history of nation and statebuilding and the violence that has accompanied it. It highlights the asymmetries in power relationships between civil society organizations and the State. Consequently an underlying theme has been that civil society in Sri Lanka needs to be strengthened and to strengthen itself. Civil society organizations (CSOs) themselves must be more vigilant and conscious about preserving and expanding their democratic space. Donors have a role to play here and, in the case of both the civil society groups and the donors, the success or failure of their endeavours hinges on their appreciation of the political environment, of getting the big picture.