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Home Guards in Sri Lanka: Guardians of Peace or Threat to Human Security?

Efforts are made in Sri Lanka to convert the civil defence force into a "development force" with responsibilities in reconstruction and rebuilding of the war-affected areas. This article explores the social policy implications of a large-scale mobilisation of civilians as a civil defence force and the options the Sri Lankan state has in dealing with this civilian force in the post-war era to ensure peace, stability, reconciliation and development.

South Asia has witnessed a rise in armed conflicts as well as an escalation of terrorist activities in recent years. Almost all the south Asian countries either have ongoing armed conflicts or have recently gone through armed conflicts. Sri Lanka and Nepal successfully ended armed conflicts either through military campaigns or through political processes involving conflicting parties.

In May 2009, the Sri Lankan armed forces crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), ending nearly three decades of war. Many of the social and political tensions that gave rise to the war, however, remain unresolved. As Suzie B eling recently put it “the end of the conflict has left us with many loose ends, people to resettle, wounds to heal, reconciliation and rehabilitation to be facilitated and the need for tangible means of redress that have suffered as a result of the war” (Beling 2009: 12).

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