The Practice of Human Rights Claims-making in Sri Lanka: Towards a ‘Thick’ Description

Principal Researchers: Shermal Wijewardene et al

Period: August 2012 – February 2013

Supported by: Diakonia

This project takes as its object of study the practice of human rights claims-making in Sri Lanka. By ‘practice’, the idea is to map human rights claims-making in terms of the performance of it, i.e. what human rights practitioners in non-government organisations (NGOs) do and how they speak in the service of human rights in Sri Lanka. As in many other parts of the world, ‘human rights’ in Sri Lanka is a highly controversial and contested discourse. Many state and non-state actors constantly critically comment on and evaluate the practice and invoking of human rights. The significance of this project lies in its objective to provide a ‘thick’ account of the issues of logic, discourse, politics, and ethics attending human rights claims-making, drawing on conversations with human rights practitioners themselves.

The main expected outcome of the project is the development of new insights into the nature and dynamics of human rights practices and claims-making in Sri Lanka. Its intention, with regard to this topic, is to support clear thinking; credible evidence; nuanced analysis; openness to diverse ideological orientations; and the prospect of moving forward from established knowledge.