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Goodhand, Jonathan (2013) 'Stabilizing a Victor's Peace? Humanitarian Action and Reconstruction in Eastern Sri Lanka.' In: Muggah, Robert, (ed.), Stabilization Operations, Security and Development. States of Fragility. London: Routledge, pp. 215-241.

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A Dawn of the East victory celebration was held in Independence Square, Colombo, on 11 July 2007 to mark the Sri Lankan government’s successful military campaign in the east. With some 290,000 civilians displaced and a continued heavy military presence in the east, the government launched its flagship Eastern Re-awakening (Nagenahira Navodaya) programme. The stated goal of the programme was to promote economic development in a region devastated by almost three decades of civil war. The government’s strategy of combining counter-insurgency with early recovery/development in the east constituted a dress rehearsal for the campaign that followed in the north. A sustained military assault led to the final defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on the battlefields of Mullativu in May 2009. As in the east, aid organizations came under pressure to make their programmes ‘coherent’ with a governmentpromoted and donor-funded ‘stabilization’ operation, involving a combination of humanitarian action, resettlement and reconstruction, in the shadow of a highly effective counter-insurgency campaign, that was subsequently legitimized through elections. This chapter focuses on the government’s strategy in the east, where the‘Sri Lankan model’ of counter-insurgency and stabilization – a model that other countries also involved in counter insurgency operations, have studied very carefully1 – was field tested, honed and subsequently applied in the north. One indication that Sri Lankan government also sees this as a model to be disseminated and replicated elsewhere is its holding of a three day conference to which foreign governments were invited, in Colombo in May 2011 entitled ‘International Seminar on Defeating Terrorism: The Sri Lankan Experience’.2The Sri Lanka case shows that discourses, policies and practices associated with stabilization are not confined to ‘fragile state’ contexts in which there is heavy (and often militarized) international engagement – even though exemplars such as Afghanistan and Iraq have tended to dominate debates on this issue. Perhaps this exogenous model of intrusive, militarized ‘peacebuilding’ led by international actors is now on the decline, in which case the Sri Lankan approach to conflict termination and post war stabilization may become more prevalent in the future. In any event, rather than being a single template, the stabilization agenda takes on very different guises in different contexts, presenting quite specific challengesto humanitarian and development actors. This is particularly true in settings like Sri Lanka, where there is a strong state which asserts ‘ownership’ over its own version of stabilization and seeks to make aid coherent with a militarily imposed political settlement. After providing some historical background on development, the state andstabilization in Sri Lanka, the paper goes on to examine in detail the various facets of the government’s ‘integrated’ approach to defeating the LTTE and winning the battle for ‘hearts and minds’ in the east. It concludes by highlighting some of the implications for humanitarian action and broader theoretical and policy debates on aid, intervention and stabilization.3

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Development Studies
ISBN: 9780414536769
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2013 16:13

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