December 01, 2004

A modern-day crime
against humanity

Linda Frum, Stockwell Day, Salim Mansur
& Reuben Bromstein IN THE National Post

Suicide bombings are an incitement to violence unconstrained by any human value. That they have come to be seen as normal over the past few years is a tragedy.

Since the attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001, all of us -- regardless of where we live or our political leanings -- have been reminded time and again of what war means in all its monstrosity and its incalculable costs. The war on terror has brought home to us, wherever we live, that none of us is safe or neutral regardless of how we may view the causes, origins and responsibility of this war gone global.

The most heinous aspect of this conflict is the use of suicide bombings to strike terror and death among innocents engaged in their daily lives. And yet, the unimaginable is now routine. And when we begin to take as normal that which is grotesque, then good has surrendered and evil is triumphant.

The perpetrators of suicide bombings are not confined to any one nation, and victims are common folks everywhere from Baghdad and Beslan to Casablanca, Colombo, Istanbul, Karachi, Jakarta, Jerusalem, Mombasa, Moscow, New York City and Washington, D.C.

There is no political philosophy or faith, beyond a pathological bloodlust, that justifies suicide bombings as a means to some political end.

While individuals and nations may differ on political goals, most recognize that ends cannot justify means. We may not always be able to demand, as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. did, that means must be morally irreproachable in pursuit of ends. But we can insist that suicide bombing as a means to whatever end has no place in our world.

The potential perils of suicide bombers using chemical or biological weapons, or a dirty nuclear bomb down the road, exceed even the unimaginable events that unfolded on 9/11.

There is a great urgency for us as ordinary people to come together and mobilize against the perpetrators of suicide bombings the ultimate moral force at our command -- public opinion at home and abroad.

We need to convince the international community to declare suicide bombing a crime against humanity, and to prosecute those who perpetrate or facilitate such attacks as organizers recruiting bombers (some barely teenagers) or providers of financing, arms, transportation, support networks or propaganda.

As Canadians, we are ideally placed to take upon ourselves this moral responsibility and mobilize public opinion behind a UN initiative against suicide bombing.

There, there is a Canadian precedent: the 1997 treaty banning anti-personnel landmines, also known as the Ottawa Convention.

Canada has a well-earned global reputation as a nation devoted to multilateralism abroad and multiculturalism at home. We are respected as innovators of peacekeeping and providers of developmental assistance worldwide, and as a nation we remain committed to the ideals enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This is the moral and political capital we bring to the assembly of nations, and it is now incumbent upon us to persuade the world through the UN to act against suicide bombing used indiscriminately as a weapon of terror.

An effort for this purpose has been launched. Canadians Against Suicide Bombing (www.canasb.ca) is a non-profit corporation committed to moving Ottawa to persuade UN members to declare suicide bombing a crime against humanity. It is a noble cause, and it is our wish to invite Canadians to support it by signing the petition available on the Web site.

It is the least each of us can do. And if we sign on in sufficient numbers, we might well begin the sort of movement that strengthens preserving and protecting lives as a universal global principle.

Linda Frum is a writer living in Toronto. Stockwell Day is an MP and the Official Opposition foreign affairs critic. Salim Mansur is a professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario.; Reuben Bromstein, founder of CANASB, retires as an Ontario Justice this month.

© National Post 2004
Reprinted for educational purposes