Lecturer in Public Law

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  • Tel: +44 (0)131 650 6520
  • Email: Asanga.Welikala@ed.ac.uk
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    Wednesday, 2 - 3 pm


Dr Asanga Welikala is Lecturer in Public Law at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh, and the Acting Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law. He is also a Research Associate of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, and Research Fellow of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Sri Lanka. Asanga's research interests lie in comparative constitutional law, applied constitutional theory, and Commonwealth constitutional history. He teaches and supervises across the public law field in Edinburgh, at Ordinary, Honours, masters, and doctoral levels. Asanga has been involved on both sides of transnational influence on constitution-making: as a member of the Office of Constitutional Support, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq; in various international advisory capacities in other countries on constitutional and legal reform issues; and as an active civil society voice and an independent expert in the current constitution-making process in Sri Lanka.







Current Research Interests

  • Plurinational constitutionalism and secession
  • Comparative federalism and devolution
  • Constitutional transitions and incrementialism
  • Dialogic constitutionalism in the Commonwealth
  • Public law of the United Kingdom and Scotland
  • Sri Lankan constitutional law and reform
  • Conservative and Burkean constitutional thought
  • Unitary states in plural polities
  • The constitutionalisation of socioeconomic rights 


Courses Taught

Fundamental Issues in Comparative Constitutional Law (Honours) (Course Organiser)

Public Law and Individual Rights (Ordinary)

Public Law of the UK and Scotland (Ordinary) (Course Organiser)

The Changing Constitution (Honours)

PhD Supervisees

Christian Paul Jones  'Fundamental political freedoms, privacy, free speech and election regulation: The legal challenges of political marketing in the modern era'

Books and Reports

Asanga Welikala, A New Devolution Settlement for Sri Lanka: Proceedings and Outcomes, Conference of Provincial Councils, August 2016, (Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2016)

Jenna Sapiano, Christine Bell, Kimana Zulueta-Fülscher, Sumit Bisarya, Asanga Welikala, Constitution-Building in Political Settlement Processes: The Quest for Inclusion, (International Idea, 2016)
Abstract: In practice, peace agreements and constitutions are connected, although not in a linear or symmetrical way. Often the purpose of a peace agreement and/or (new) constitutional arrangement is to reach a new political settlement and document the commitments to it. Peace agreements often come before constitutions in the overall political settlement process, and sometimes constrain or determine the options for constitutional design; the constitution then becomes an additional instrument that enables sustainable peace. Given the link between these two documents, they often merge in the broader political settlement process into ‘constitutional peace agreements’ or ‘peace agreement constitutions’. Yet the commitment to a revised political settlement may be very thin or non-existent, in which case both the peace agreement and any 7 follow-up constitutional framework bear the heavy burden of trying to forge a new settlement capable of delivering peace. However, the academic and policy literatures on conflict resolution and constitution-building often address peace agreements and constitution-building as separate issues and processes.

Asanga Welikala, The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution: Content and Context, (Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2016)

Asanga Welikala, Reforming Sri Lankan presidentialism: Provenance, problems and prospects, (Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2015)

Asanga Welikala, The Sri Lankan Republic at 40: Reflections on Constitutional History, Theory and Practice, (Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2012)

Asanga Welikala, Rohan Edrisinha, Mario Gomez, V.T. Thamilmaran, Power Sharing in Sri Lanka: Political and Constitutional Documents 1926 – 2008, (Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2009)

Asanga Welikala, Rohan Edrisinha, Essays on Federalism in Sri Lanka, (Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2008)

Asanga Welikala, A State of Permanent Crisis: Constitutional Government, Fundamental Rights, and States of Emergency in Sri Lanka, (Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2008)

Asanga Welikala, Rohan Edrisinha, The Electoral Reform Debate in Sri Lanka, (Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2008)


Asanga Welikala, 'Sri Lanka's long constitutional moment ', (2015), The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Vol 104, pp 551-562
Abstract: Constitutional change in Sri Lanka has been a vexed issue and one mired in party politics for many years now. Particularly intractable difficulties have surfaced over whether the country should jettison the semi-presidential form of government, introduced in 1978, in favour of a Westminster model under which the prime minister would enjoy greater powers. The recent presidential and parliamentary elections, which saw a decisive shift in the popular mood, have brought the debate over constitutional reform into sharp focus and have already led to a number of important initiatives by the new government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena. This article assesses the implications of those initiatives and examines the key challenges that remain to be addressed. It argues that the ‘constitutional moment’ created by the combined outcome of the two recent elections has the potential for further, far-reaching reform.

Asanga Welikala, 'A political legacy of the British empire: power and the parliamentary system in post-colonial India and Sri Lanka, by Harshan Kumarasingham, New York and London, I.B. Tauris, 2013, 297 pp., GBP 51.04 (hardback), ISBN 978-1-78076-228-9 ', (2015), South Asian History and Culture, Vol 6, pp 523-525

Asanga Welikala, 'Sri Lanka: Radical promises, stuttering delivery', (2015), The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Vol 104, pp 353-355

Asanga Welikala, 'Ethnocracy or Republic? Paradigms and choices for constitutional reform and renewal in Sri Lanka ', (2015), The South Asianist, Vol 4, pp 1-24
Abstract: This articles considers the recent constitutional reform process in Sri Lanka and offers two analytical models for explaining the options for choice and change.


Asanga Welikala, 'The Sri Lankan conception of the Unitary State Theory, practice and history' in Amarnath Amarasingham, Daniel Bass (ed.) Sri Lanka (Hurst 2016) 35-52

Asanga Welikala, ''Specialist in omniscience'? Nationalism, constitutionalism and Sir Ivor Jennings' engagement with Ceylon ' in Harshan Kumarasingham (ed.) Constitution-Making in Asia (Routledge 2016)

Asanga Welikala, 'Southphalia or Southfailure? National pluralism and the state in South Asia ' in Stephen Tierney (ed.) Nationalism and Globalisation (Hart 2015) 93-122

Asanga Welikala, 'Sri Lanka's failed peace process and the continuing challenge of ethno-territorial cleavages ' in Dealing with Territorial Cleavages in Constitutional Transitions (Oxford University Press 2015)

Asanga Welikala, 'Constitutional form and reform in postwar Sri Lanka Towards a plurinational understanding' in Mark Tushnet, Madhav Khosla (ed.) Unstable Constitutionalism (Cambridge University Press 2015) 320-354

Asanga Welikala, 'The Eighteenth Amendment (2010) and the abolition of the presidential term limit A brief history of the diminution of temporal limitations on executive power since 1978' in Rohan Edrisinha, Aruni Jayakody (ed.) The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution (Centre for Policy Alternatives 2011) 87-131

Working Papers

Asanga Welikala, ''Specialist in Omniscience'? Nationalism, Constitutionalism, and Sir Ivor Jennings' Engagement with Ceylon ' 2017

Asanga Welikala, 'The idea of constitutional incrementalism ' 2017

Asanga Welikala, 'The case against constitutionalising justiciable socioeconomic rights in Sri Lanka ' 2017

Rohan Edrisinha, Asanga Welikala, 'Civil and political rights in the Sri Lankan Constitution and law: Making the New Constitution in compliance with the ICCPR' 2016

Benjamin Schonthal, Asanga Welikala, 'Buddhism and the regulation of religion in the New Constitution: Past debates, present challenges, and future options' 2016

Asanga Welikala, 'The Sri Lankan conception of the Unitary State: Theory, practice, and history' 2016

Asanga Welikala, Harshan Kumarasingham, 'Soulbury plus: Conceptual foundations and institutional features of a parliamentary-constitutional state' 2016

Michael Mendis, Asanga Welikala, 'Reshaping the executive: Choosing the Prime Minister in a parliamentary system' 2016

Asanga Welikala, 'Is there a conservative case for a Federal United Kingdom? ' 2016

Asanga Welikala, 'Devolution under the Thirteenth Amendment: Extent, limits, and avenues for reform' 2016