Sri Lanka’s government declared victory in May, 2009, in one of the world’s most intractable wars
after a series of battles in which it killed the leader of the Tamil Tigers, who had been fighting to
create a separate homeland for the country’s ethnic Tamil minority. The United Nations said the
conflict had killed between 80,000 and 100,000 people in Sri Lanka since full-scale civil war broke
out in 1983.
A US State Department report offered a grisly catalogue of alleged abuses, including the killing of
captives or combatants seeking surrender, the abduction and in some cases murder of Tamil
civilians, and dismal humanitarian conditions in camps for displaced persons.
Human Rights Watch said the U.S. report should dispel any doubts that serious abuses were
committed during the final months of the 26-year civil war. The report gains added significance
since, during these five months, the Sri Lankan Government denied independent observers,
including the media and human rights organizations, access to the war zone, and conducted a
“war without witnesses.”
This second edition with over 150 new pages traces the ongoing engagement in the Sri Lankan
conflict of Professor Francis A. Boyle, an eminent American expert in international law, from the
conflict’s last years to the present pursuit of UN recognition of the Tamil genocide and call for
reparations. It is the first book to develop an authoritative case for genocide against the
Government of Sri Lanka under international law.
Such charges by an expert like Boyle should not be taken lightly: In 1993, Boyle took the
remarkably similar case of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the International Court of
Justice, setting a historical precedent by winning not one, but two Orders from the Court against
the rump Yugoslavia.
Professor Boyle was among the very few to address the international legal implications of the
Sri Lankan Government’s grave and systematic violations of Tamil human rights while the
conflict was actually taking place, and to excoriate the UN and those significant states and actors
in the global community whose failure to prevent it, Boyle charges, amounted to complicity in
A seminal lecture in the book outlines the legal basis for the Tamils in Sri Lanka to exercise their
right under international law to proclaim a Unilateral Declaration of Independence and establish a
Provisional Government for Tamil Eelam if that is their desire. Here Boyle draws upon his
experience as the Legal Advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization on their 15 November
1988 Declaration of Independence and their establishment of the State of Palestine, which
recently announced the intention to petition for membership in the United Nations Organization.
In addition to Boyle’s writings on aspects of international law related to Sri Lanka’s war
crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against Tamils, and the international
community’s failure to stop the slaughter of Tamil civilians, the book also contains relevant
articles from international conventions directly applicable to the conflict, including the
Geneva Conventions, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the Genocide