Shopkeeper in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Rebirth

Sri Lanka deserves praise for the progress it has made since the end of the war against the separatist Tamil Tigers in 2009, not least for nurturing representative political institutions. But the country has much more work to do.

COLOMBO – Sri Lanka has been deservedly praised for the progress it has made since the end of the war against the separatist Tamil Tigers in 2009. The economy has grown at an average annual rate of 6.7%, and education and health statistics are impressive.

All developing countries face myriad challenges, but this is especially the case for a country that has suffered an intense 30-year civil war. The government will need to set priorities; but success will require a comprehensive approach.

Underlying wars such as the fight with the Tamil Tigers are, typically, social and economic grievances such as real or perceived discrimination, and the failure of government to address wealth and income disparities adequately. Thus, more than transitional justice is required in Sri Lanka (or, to take another example, in Colombia, where peace with the FARC guerillas seems increasingly likely). What is required is full integration of the Tamils, Sri Lanka’s embittered minority, into the country’s economic life.

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