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Publication - Dr Gilberto Algar-Faria

    Representing nobody

    Liberal exhaustion, NGOs and the UN in post-war Sri Lanka


    Algar-Faria, G, 2014, ‘Representing nobody: Liberal exhaustion, NGOs and the UN in post-war Sri Lanka’.


    This paper will demonstrate the ambiguous role held by NGOs in Sri Lanka, highlighting the extent to which they are caught in a much wider battle for influence between the Government of Sri Lanka and external donors. The result of this in the war-torn country’s post-2009 context, where the warfighting has ended but peace has yet to prevail, has been that the majority of INGOs and their personnel have become exhausted. Constantly treated as a security risk by the government and as a political tool by external donors, these organisations are prevented from representing their proclaimed beneficiaries. What this represents is a representation of the exhaustion of the liberal project, as introduced by Mark Duffield in his discussion of the phenomenon of resilience (Duffield 2011). However, at the same time, the UN appears to be increasing its rhetoric in calling for Sri Lanka to answer for its wartime human rights abuses (UNHCR 2013). Therefore, this paper will take a step towards challenging the notion that the entirety of the liberal project is exhausted, suggesting that it is becoming more remote and innovative, but it is not dead.

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