When he came home and the Lord asked him, “Where is your brother?” Cain answered that he didn’t know. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Gn. 4.9
I can’t stop thinking about the horror of the last few moments of 13 year old stoning victim Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow’s life. People I work with in the NGO community at the UN are struggling to come up with a response to this atrocity.
Somalia is in a state of anarchy. The Transitional Federal Government of Somalia is not in control of the country and could not have stopped the stoning. The situation of the international community is akin to living next to a family where the parents are completely messed up on drugs or whatever and are abusing their children. Obviously, reasoning with the parents won’t make any difference, nor will picketing outside their house, because the parents are too far gone to change their behavior on their own. Sending in a few bags of groceries once in a while won’t solve the problem either.
So far, the response of the international community to the ongoing violence in Somalia has been equivalent to these ineffectual actions. The UN and other humanitarian organizations make statements deploring what’s happening in Somalia, but the violence continues.
Last April when the Pope was at the UN, he said, “In the internal debates of the United Nations, increasing emphasis is being placed on the responsibility to protect. Indeed this is coming to be recognized as the moral basis for a governments claim to authority. It is also a feature that naturally appertains to a family, in which stronger members take care of weaker ones. This Organization performs an important service, in the name of the international community, by monitoring the extent to which governments fulfill their responsibility to protect their citizens.”
Then he challenged the UN to do more than just monitor, he declared that, “Every State has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights, as well as from the consequences of humanitarian crises, whether natural or man-made. If States are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the United Nations Charter and in other international instruments. The action of the international community and its institutions, provided that it respects the principles undergirding the international order, should never be interpreted as an unwarranted imposition or a limitation of sovereignty.”
The international community has a moral responsibility to intervene, just as we would to violence and abuse in our own neighborhoods.