Sri Lanka: The End of War and the Continuation of Struggle

Diminishing Conflicts in Asia and the Pacific

Author/s (editor/s):

Bina D'Costa

Publication year:


Publication type:

Book chapter

Find this publication at:

Bina D’Costa, ‘Sri Lanka: The End of War and the Continuation of Struggle’, in Edward Aspinall, Robin Jeffrey, and Anthony Regan, eds, Diminishing Conflicts in Asia and the Pacific: Why Some Subside and Others Don’t, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2013, pp. 101-14.

One of the world’s longest running civil wars ‘officially’ ended in May 2009. ‘Peace’, the Sri Lankan government triumphantly claimed, had been achieved through a crushing military victory. Previous efforts to end the civil war had been frustrated by the fractured politics of Sri Lankan governments, the interplay of inter-state and intra-state politics, global fear and insecurity fuelled by the ‘war on terror’ discourse, and the growing extremism of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that also alienated a conflict-weary Tamil population. However, the concluding counterinsurgency campaign of the Rajapaksa regime undermined the rule of law and political pluralism, and its alternative narrative of the violence planted the seeds of a national trauma that will take years to heal. The Sri Lankan state was largely ineffective in integrating non-partisan, non-state actors in its peacebuilding and reconstruction efforts.

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