Sri Lanka take lessons from failed federal solutions!

By Shenali D Waduge

Only about 15% of the world’s countries are federal. The notion that the UN or the International Community have fixed templates for conflicts has proved an absolute sham. All of the countries the UN & international community have been involved in & helped deliver mechanisms for what they deem to be ‘the best solution to conflicts often created or aggravated by their interference” have all failed. All of the newly independent states they helped create are in chaos including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Kosovo & South Sudan. In all of these countries the solution has been federal resulting no single national policy but a plethora of conflicting regional policies, conflicts & new chaos. In all of these instances what we have seen is a bunch of people who have no clue as to what the ordinary people think or want or careless about their needs, but believe that they have the right to decide on behalf of them what type of system they should adopt and after creating the foundation for future chaos they nicely depart to do the same or worse damage in another country. These individuals & their organizations should not be allowed to ruin countries as they have presenting all types of ridiculous blueprints that lead to secession & conflicts & so many loss of lives.


Ethnic federalism was introduced to former Yemen, Yugoslav independent states, South Sudan & more recently Nepal & have shown no signs of being a success.


The idea of one ethnic group living in a designated area is preposterous in the 21st century when at the other extreme another lot of people promote multiculturalism & multiethnic communities! When colonial British partitioned British India they created Pakistan along ethnic-federal lines. The West has done the same for former Yugoslavia & Sudan as well as the recent example of Nepal. It is another means of ‘divide & rule’ by ethnicity. It is without doubt that ethnic federalism accentuates ethnic conflicts, facilitates secession, and eventually leads to the disintegration of countries.



USA (example of failure of confederal constitution)

Population: 325million

Area: 9.8 million km2

US is 3 times bigger than India & 17 times larger than Sri Lanka


The Articles of Confederation for 13 states were first proposed in 1777 in Philadelphia. It took 2 years for 12 states to approve it, the last state (Maryland) approving it 4 years later in 1781. The constitution was designed to make the central government very weak within a UNION of states. Agreement of only 9 of the 13 states was required to pass laws resulting in further operational issues. Amendments required unanimous consent creating further chaos. The centre had no control over the confederates conducting their own foreign policies & international relations & own money systems with no common currency.

US experiment with Confederacy ended on 4 March 1789 when the Articles of Confederation were replaced by the present US Constitution.

Confederation features that give independent & unmonitored powers to the states/provinces as seen in the US example is a failure & should not even be considered as an option in Sri Lanka.


Ethiopia (example of failure of Ethnic Federalism)

Population: 102.4 million

Area: 1,104,300 km2

(United States is about 9 times bigger than Ethiopia. India is 3 times bigger than Ethiopia)

Ethiopia has over 80 ethno-linguistic groups


Only 2 countries in the African continent remained untouched by colonial rulers – Ethiopia & Liberia.

In 1995 Ethiopia departed from its unitary constitution to adopt a federation of nine ethno-linguistically divided regional states. Parliament comprised House of People’s Representatives & House of Federation. The President became ceremonial & executive powers were with the Prime Minister & his Council of Ministers (hmm)


Many Ethiopians have asked the question – If federalism is to be the solution for Ethiopia, why should it be ‘ethnic federalism’? They wanted to know why their country should be divided on ethnic lines, who deemed the historical provinces as faulty & why? Why couldn’t the original provinces remain as they were? Africa’s countries are all created from artificial borders & these artificially created nations dividing people, tribes, families & telling them you are a citizen in this area, you are a citizen in another area is the main cause of the tribal conflicts plaguing Africa.

According to Article 39(1) of the Ethiopian constitution says, every ethno-territorial community has “an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession”. The right to ethno-national self-determination granted by ethnic federalism provides the opportunity to appoint local government officials from their own ethnic – another hara kiri.

Kosovo’s Ethno-Religious Federalism fails

Population: 1,895,250

Area: 10,908 km2



Kosovo was controversially created into an independent state in 2008 separating from Serbia following NATO’s illegal intervention of Yugoslavia in 1999. It was a new country created on ethno-lingual lines & it has become another of West’s failures.

Kosovo may be independent but it hasn’t even been given an international country code even EU has not included Kosovo to its membership! Another takeaway from Kosovo for Sri Lanka is the artificial façade of peace & stability that the International Community presents to promote themselves as being the architects of Kosovo’s success story – the same seen happening in Sri Lanka. To represent Kosovo as a ‘multi-ethnic society’ its official flag is externally imposed – blue background, gold map of Kosovo around 6 white stars to convey Kosovo is European. Kosovo’s national anthem is titled ‘Europa’ with no lyrics to avoid nationalistic language disputes. Sri Lanka take note of the same arguments being used here! Kosovo’s constitution is also imposed by foreigners which has turned a blind eye to the corruptions & criminal syndicates operating from Kosovo by the KLA (equivalent to the LTTE). The international community continues to prop up the KLA despite increase in drug trafficking, people smuggling, all types of rackets, political assassinations & organ smuggling. UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaar helped create Kosovo Independence (the same person picked by UNHRC to conduct investigation on Sri Lanka) but his plan for Kosovo was rejected by the very countries that backed the Kosovo independence leaving Kosovo in a stalemate situation. The Western-sponsored ‘political’ project of Kosovo which cost $40 billion (from 2000 to 2010) has failed.

Clinton said “What we have done in Kosovo is something we can be proud of for decades”!

further reading


South Sudans’s Ethno-Religious Federalism fails

Population: 12.23 million

Area: 619,745 km²


Sudan was the biggest country in Africa, and Algeria is the 2nd; Now Algeria is the biggest and Sudan split into 2 countries. Sudan is about 2 times bigger than South Africa. South Sudan is roughly the size of Texas


Roots to Sudan’s conflict not surprisingly is the British. Since 1899, Sudan was ruled by the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium but Egypt can little say. Divide & Rule policies meant Sudanese were taught to distrust, fear & fight each other. The British divided Sudan into two – majority Christian South Sudan was not developed & tribal rule encouraged (Southern Policy) but North Sudan occupied by Arabs was modernized & Islamization was encouraged. The distrust sown by the British resulted in North-South Sudan going into armed conflict in 1950s.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011 as the outcome of a 2005 agreement that ended Africa’s longest-running civil war. In 2013, civil war broke out but in spite of this South Sudan was made federal in 2014. Not surprisingly a peace deal brokered by the US and the international community collapsed in July 2016. More than 1 million people have now fled to Uganda the largest exodus since 1994 Rwanda. All this with 12,000 UN peace keepers in South Sudan. The notion that setting up a UN office in conflict-torn countries is NO solution was also proved in a report by Medicines Sans Frontiers claiming the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) failed in its duty to safeguard the people.

Failure of ‘FORCED’ peace –



Nepal’s Federal failure

Population: 28.98 million

Area: 147,181km2


Nepal is twice bigger than UAE, Jordan or Ireland. Nepal is approximately 53 times smaller than Australia. United States is about 67 times bigger than Nepal. Nepal is about 211 times bigger than Singapore.


400 years of monarch ended King Gyanendra’s direct rule in 2006. Indian & Western influence in Nepal has increased over the years. The Nepali blockade resulted in India stopping all imports (food, medicines, fuel etc) to Nepal through India’s borders resulting in a major humanitarian catastrophe all because Nepal refused to change clauses in its new constitution as per India’s wishes! There are over 100 officially recognised ethnic groups in Nepal but all geographically dispersed. Nepal’s constitution adopted in 2015 replaced its unitary structure by creating 7 federal provinces. India’s interest in federal demarcation became an open secret during the economic blockade. The division of the provinces many believe more suited for India’s designs than for Nepal’s benefit, an issue that the 13a in Sri Lanka continues to be of concern to the Sri Lankan citizenry. India is playing fiddle with the Nepali Madheshis as it is doing with the Sri Lankan Tamils and in both cases the dangers of secessionism looks imminent. The confusions are many –


Yemen (example of failure of externally promoted federal constitution creating chaos)

Population: 27.58 million (2016)

Area: 527,968 km²


United States is about 19 times bigger than Yemen. Bangladesh is about 4 times smaller than Yemen.

Yemen was forced into a federal constitution which has aggravated the conflict in Yemen. In 2013, the United Nations sponsored a National Dialogue Conference (NDC) to create a new constitution. Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) was created to draft a new constitution based on the recommendations of the NDC (an astonishing 1800). A draft constitution of 73 pages was presented on 15 January 2015. Yemen was to be split into 6 federal regions. The proposals did not reflect the ethos of Yemen it left out the Houthis & Al-Hiraak, the group that represents South Yemen no different to the manner the place of Buddhism is being craftily removed from the new constitution. In the case of the Houthis they were denied access to the seaports & natural resources which set the stage for the coup & ensuing conflict. What the NDC promised the people, the NDC proposals did not deliver. Yemenis were left with a lack of electricity, no viable economy, no security, and no rule of law. Yemen’s constitution declared separation of powers but not what was to be separated! Article 15 says ‘free social economy’ but no explanation on how the economy was to work. Article 18 says each region will have a role in regional economic development but what the role is, is not included.

Any new constitution must also have stable institutions. However, with the present Sri Lankan government selling strategic areas/resources including airports & ports to foreign governments/foreign corporates while also opening provision for them to buy lands anywhere in Sri Lanka, how equipped are provinces with their own political issues & themselves heavily influenced by foreign factors to handle these power players virtually operating inside their regions as the centre will be powerless to take action in the event of a national crisis. Moreover, while all these chaos are being subtly rolled out even the military & police are being pruned & diluted in other ways to cripple their ability to function in national interest as well. In all other areas the influence of money has influenced people to silence! Only a handful are striving to salvage Sri Lanka from the abyss it has fallen into mainly as a result of the shortsightedness of Sri Lanka’s voters.



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