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If Sri Lanka is to become a tropical paradise again, it must build enduring peace. This will only occur through genuine interethnic equality, and a transition from being a unitary state to being a federation that grants provincial and local autonomy.

Yet even in victory the Sri Lankan government seems unable to define peace or outline a political solution to the long-standing cultural and political grievances of the Tamil minority, which makes up 12 percent of the 21.3-million population. A process of national reconciliation anchored in federalism and multiculturalism can succeed only if human-rights abuses by all parties are independently investigated. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has acknowledged that civilian casualties were “unacceptably high,” especially as the war built to a bloody crescendo.

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