Programme Paper

Project: Asia Programme

Associate Fellow, Asia Programme
  • Since the end of the civil war in 2009, there has been little progress in reforming Sri Lanka’s tattered democratic institutions, building reconciliation between communities or addressing the core grievances around political representation that fuelled the three-decade-long ethnic conflict. 
  • The government has declined to heed international calls for an independent war crimes investigation using its relationships with developing countries and with Russia and China to build support for its position at the UN Human Rights Council.
  • The United States, the EU and Japan have been diffident about applying concerted and coordinated pressure on Sri Lanka, while Russia and China have emerged as key allies in blocking UN action. In recent months there have been signs that shifts in India's position, dictated by a combination of external and domestic factors, could trigger steps which eventually lead to a process of accountability for acts committed during the civil war. 
  • A failure to address fundamental issues relating to accountability and political devolution in Sri Lanka is already generating nostalgia for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) among some sections of the Tamil population. Continuing violations of rights, impunity and an absence of meaningful political participation in governance for the citizens of the north-east have the potential to trigger a new cycle of conflict.