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Rich, varied collection of documents

reviewed by Prof. Bertram Bastiampillai

Documents on Sri Lanka's Foreign Policy, 1947-1965

By Prof. Amal Jayawardane

Published by the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (Colombo), 2005

A long overdue lacunae indispensably needed to be filled by the publication of documents on Sri Lanka's external policy under various governments from the period immediately preceding independence and since then.

This need of scholars and other interested readers and students of Sri Lanka's foreign policy has been filled at least up to 1965 by a modest though eminently equipped and doubtlessly competent university don Prof. Amal Jayawardane.


The foundation for this erudite contribution to scholarship on foreign affairs and external relations of Sri Lanka lay with the efforts and initiative of two distinguished scholars, Prof. Shelton Kodikara and Prof. K. P. Misra, of the University in metropolitan Sri Lanka and of Jawarhalal Nehru University of New Delhi respectively. But for the completion of the difficult and demanding study, credit deservedly is merited by Prof. Amal Jayawardane.

The arrangement into groups of the foreign policy documents reflecting various views on external relations over the years under different regimes is commendable. It helps scholars and readers of politics to comprehend the panoramic outlook of different governments over time, if there was any remarkable change or not.

As a bedrock of the small but strategically centred island of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, a vital and busy waterway linking the west with the east, lay nonalignment between power blocs. Sri Lanka remained uncommitted to any bloc free of the fallout of rivalries between major power groupings. It would be invidious if one were to select any single document for commendations.

A critical and serious student must spend time on all 13 documents carefully chosen and arranged in the first section focusing on non-alignment comprising the views of the first Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake and Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, more dedicated to a vision on positive neutralism and non-alignment.


Section ll concentrates on issues relating to disarmament and arms control, relevant even today. Attention is placed on perils of nuclear weaponry, wasteful expenditure on harmful devices, and the need to utilize resources for peaceful purposes and development.

The third subsection is riveted on anti-colonialism. The documents dwell upon references to Indonesia, independent struggles in colonial and dependent countries, liberation upsurges in Algeria, Cyprus, West Irian, Tunisia, and Goa, and freedom movements as a rule. Some presentations in the United Nations and other forums enhance the value of the documents in this grouping. The fourth subsection touches upon anti-racism, a topic that should capture the concern and interest of many scholars and readers of foreign affairs.

Section B of the book dwells upon Sri Lanka and the Major Powers, a subject that is extensive and important so as to merit profound attention, detailed study and analysis.

The first subject deals with the Defence Agreement and External Affairs Agreement between the UK and Ceylon.

These agreements are aptly followed by Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake's Speech in the House of Representatives on the Motion on the Independence of Ceylon. The above topics are scrutinized in documents that follow consisting of the statements of the members of Parliament. Some of the issues that cropped up became even contentions as for instance the grant of bases to Britain for the use of the royal army, navy and air force.

They are critically reviewed and a student of Sri Lanka and foreign relations has to pay close scrutiny. This first subsection B of the documents reproduced in the book has naturally dealt with Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom.

Subsection (II) of Section B of the study centres upon Sri Lanka and the United States of America, a major power in the world. It begins with an extract culled from a statement on Sri Lanka's foreign policy made in 1950 and terminates with Premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike's speech supporting Cuba's Independence in January 1964.

In between documents comment on the grant of port facilities to the United States Navy, Point Four General Agreement for the Technical Cooperation between Ceylon and the US, the Finance Minister's statement on suspension of US Aid to Sri Lanka in 1963, Dr. N. M. Perera's observations on stoppage of American aid in 1963, and the views of the Sri Lanka delegate in the Security Council on the Cuban Crisis in 1960 and 1961.

Invaluable documents provide convincing evidence of Sri Lanka's independent thinking and expression.


Section B, subsection III and IV concentrate on Sri Lanka's relations with the USSR and the People's Republic of China. The evolution of Sri Lanka's attitude towards communism, promotion of diplomatic ties and cultural cooperation with the Soviet Union, and the Soviet economic assistance to Sri Lanka receive prominence in the section on the USSR.

Then follows the Trade Agreement between Ceylon and China, the important Rubber-Rice Trade Pact, Sri Lankan espousal of admitting China to the UN, Prime Minister S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike's speech on Tibet, and Sri Lanka-China Maritime Agreement in August 1963.

Section C is devoted to documents on "Sri Lanka and Asia-Africa" emphasizing Afro-Asian solidarity and world peace. Documents range from number 113 to 133.

They commence with J.R. Jayewardene's speech at the San Francisco Conference on the Japanese Peace Treaty and run over among others on Sir John Kotelawala's speech at the Bandung Conference, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike's speech at the Asian Economic Conference, and his "the Task before Newly Independent Nations" at the UN, November 1956. Particularly important documents are S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike's speech on the "Middle East Problem" (August 1958) and on "Diplomatic Relations with Israel and Arab countries." (August 1960).

Furthermore, section C (II) confines itself to the presentation of vital documents on "Indo -Sri Lanka Relations," a theme of paramount importance to us.

It comprises documents 134 to 149 and commences with the "Nehru - Kotelawala Agreement on Persons of Indian Origin in Ceylon" (January 1954). Immediately follows yet another significant document on "Persons of Indian Origin in Ceylon" which is the text of the joint statement of the Prime Ministers of India and Ceylon (October 1954).

These documents prove to be in practice of no avail and controversy on the issue continued. Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike's Senate statement of January 1964 on Indo-Ceylon Problem follows and enlightens us on this critical problem.

The very vital Indo-Ceylon (Sirima-Shastri) Agreement of 30 October 1964 is a useful informative inclusion.

The statements on the "Sino-Indian Border Dispute" and Dudley Senanayake's view on the "Indo-Pakistan Conflict" (March 1965) are equally useful documents.


Section C (lll) on "Vietnam" embodies statements on "Persecution of Buddhists in South Vietnam," (June 1963), statement by the Government of Sri Lanka on Vietnam (April 1965) and on other material statements on the situation relevant to that country.

These documents educate us about the occurrences and Sri Lanka's concern in a less known country to Sri Lankans.

The final set of documents in Section D on "Sri Lanka and United Nations" are several it is no wonder. They are worth any student's cautious study and intelligent attention. Premier S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike's "Admission to the United Nations" demands serious study.

Then documents 158, 159, 161, and 162 stressing Sri Lanka's views on the role of the United Nations and the contribution made by Sri Lanka in diverse UN Committees provide essential data to students of International Affairs.


Such statements concern disarmament and economic development of under-developed countries, the UN role in economic development, Korean Unification, Suez Crisis, the Hungary Crisis, and the Congo Crisis.

All these statements cannot be missed as they are far, far informative and instructive.This book contains a rich and varied collection of documents pertaining to Sri Lanka's international politics, economics and cultural relations with a large range of nations in different continents.

They throw light on Sri Lanka's international behaviour and conduct in connection to diverse subjects. It will no doubt be a compulsory standard text to be thoroughly mastered by scholars and others interested in international affairs.

Arrangement and selection demonstrate a mastery of international relations by a discriminating erudite editor and original architects of the book.

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