Research Report

In the Shadow of a Cease-fire:: The Impacts of Small Arms Availability and Misuse in Sri Lanka

Chris Smith
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2003
Published by: Small Arms Survey
Pages: 55
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep10726
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-9)

    The civil war in Sri Lanka endured for nearly two decades, from 1983 until the Cease-fire Agreement (CFA) was signed in February 2002. But even before independence in 1948, national legislation began to cut across Tamil interests. The situation for Tamils became worse after independence. Tensions began to mount through the 1970s, and by the 1980s, a civil war was under way. The war can be divided into three periods—Eelam I, II, and III—punctuated by periods when the fighting subsided and talks were mooted but, in effect, both sides were taking the opportunity to build up their reserves....

  2. (pp. 10-14)

    The illegal procurement system developed by the LTTE over the course of the conflict is perhaps the most innovative and impressive ever witnessed for a non-state organization. Backed by expatriate Tamils willing to provide money and contacts, the LTTE was able to trawl many countries in Southeast Asia—Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Myanmar, and Singapore—for the weapons and non-military equipment it required to sustain the civil war. The end of the Cold War brought fresh opportunities, as new, illegal markets developed in the former states of the Soviet Union and eastern Europe.

    Many of the most prominent LTTE leaders...

  3. (pp. 15-19)

    Unlike many developing countries, Sri Lanka does have legislation in place to control firearms. The ability of the security forces to do this through the implementation of the legislation is, however, open to question. In addition, irrespective of how well this legislation is implemented, there remains a threat from the increasing availability of illegal weapons in both the north and the south of the island. A major source of weapons is thought to be the large number of government troops deserting from the north to the south. How many bring weapons and ordnance with them is open to question and...

  4. (pp. 20-33)

    Whereas major weapons systems are the technological embodiment of conventional warfare, SALW have now come to be seen as a category of their own. The so-called ‘new wars’ that have shaped the security landscape of the post-Cold War era relied almost entirely upon uncontrolled and generally illegal or poorly controlled SALW. It has even been suggested, though perhaps too starkly, given recent events in South Asia and the Middle East, that these ‘new wars’ signify the end of Clausewitzean war in the form of warfare between two states for clearly defined political aims where victory is discernible and absolute (Kaldor,...

  5. (pp. 34-39)

    The recent cease-fire in the war between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE has brought to an end, albeit perhaps in fits and starts, a bitter conflict that lasted for nearly two decades with only occasional respite. The impact upon the Jaffna peninsula, especially, and the north-east coastal region has been severe and without interval. Contested areas and zones of conflict have lost two decades of economic development at least. Jaffna has been virtually razed to the ground, especially the Muslim quarter, where the LTTE undertook its version of ethnic cleansing by expelling 25,000 Muslims. The extended duration of...

  6. (pp. 40-41)

    The war between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE has affected the entire country in many significant ways. Society as a whole appears to have been incrementally brutalized and, as a result, armed violence has increased across the country and at a number of levels, at the domestic level especially. Violent crime is on the increase and, assuming the peace process holds, the nation must come to terms with war crimes and human rights abuses on both sides over two decades.

    Conversely, there are large parts of the country where, superficially, the war has impinged little if at all...