Human rights scholars, attorneys, and activists will deservedly focus on the human rights abuses committed by the Sri Lankan military as the decades - long civil war against the Tamil Tigers came to a crushing end this past spring. The military’s brutality, especially its failure to discriminate combatants from non-combatants, should be investigated by both domestic and transnational institutions. It remains to be seen whether such wanton disregard for civilian collateral damage will become the norm for regimes embroiled in civil wars and present yet another realpolitik threat to humanitarian law, or will Sri Lanka and other regimes face accountability for such abuses. Here, though, I would like to focus on an area where Sri Lanka’s actions are still to be decided, namely, the responsibility of a state after it has been successful militarily. I will frame my remarks within the terms of recent advances in just war theory focusing on the moral responsibilities of a vanquisher.

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