Printed with permission of the C-CAT
C-CAT: Since its founding in 2004, the Canadian Coalition Against Terror (C-CAT) has called on the government to list the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity under section 83.05 of the Criminal Code. Listing the IRGC is essentially a unilateral Canadian prerogative that can and should be pursued in the framework of Canada’s ongoing anti-terrorism efforts and human rights advocacy – independently of any nuclear context.
The IRGC and Canadian Law: No Legal Obstacle to Listing the IRGC: Section 83.05 of the Criminal Code empowers the Governor in Council to create by regulation a list of entities that are treated as terrorist groups. The Governor in Council should add the IRGC to this list. The IRGC’s actions fall under the rubric of “terrorist activity” as proscribed by Canadian law; the IRGC may be considered an “entity” for these purposes; there is existing precedent in Canadian law for defining a state agency as a terrorist organization; and even without such precedent, the IRGC is arguably too autonomous to be considered a state agency.
The IRGC and Global Terror: The revolutionary doctrine of Iran has generated an insatiable drive in Iran’s ruling elite to establish Iran as a regional and global power through subversion and terror. To this end, Iran has provided extensive logistical support and billions of dollars of capital to terrorist organizations across the globe. The IRGC is the principal body engaged in sponsoring terrorist and militant groups and activity both in Iran and abroad. The resultant atrocities have rivaled or exceeded the exploits of most, if not all, of the terrorist organizations presently listed by Canada. The IRGC controls Iran‘s missile batteries and is deeply involved in all aspects of Iran’s nuclear program. The IRGC in its entirety is an entity that has, from its inception, facilitated, supported and directly committed acts that are deemed “terrorist activity” under Canadian law.
The IRGC as a Political and Economic Force Keeping an Illegitimate Regime in Power: In the aftermath of Iran’s recent presidential elections, the IRGC played a key role in crushing dissent – leading many analysts to describe the events surrounding the contested election as an IRGC “coup”.
The IRGC is neither an Ordinary State Agency, nor an Ordinary Branch of Iran’s Armed Forces: Policymakers ought to consider whether the listing process should also apply to entities like the IRGC that arguably constitute a branch or agency of the armed services of another state. C-CAT submits that Canada should even so list the IRGC on the following grounds:
- Iran‘s Constitution (which is the ostensible source of the IRGC’s legitimacy) is a mission statement for a theologically premised global movement that promotes terrorism, the violation of international law and the destruction of the international order. The Iranian Constitution and the regime it mandates are sui generis – and therefore constitute their own category. There is no comparable founding document of any other contemporary country. Whereas constitutions generally provide limits on power, this ―Constitution‖ does the opposite, providing almost unlimited power to a single person – the Supreme Leader – and creating governmental structures that can simply be dismissed or dissolved at his whim. Merely being listed in a Constitution does not automatically confer the privileges of the constitutional legitimacy associated with a state any more than creating a sham corporation would provide the protections of incorporation. A Constitution which inherently denies the legitimacy of other states and religions, seeks their destruction or submission, and whose constitutional agencies are openly mandated to propagate that ideology, should not be granted the protections and legitimacy it does not afford to others.
- Defining the IRGC as a “branch” of the armed forces of another country is a misnomer. The IRGC is more like Hizbullah or Hamas, which are ideologically-based organizations that develop military, business, social and cultural capacities to advance their agenda. The military aspect is just one dimension of a unique ideological mandate that is virtually borderless, allowing the IRGC a multitude of political, cultural, economic as well as military functions.
- Given its level of operational control, independence from government hierarchy, and economic self-sufficiency, the IRGC has more than sufficient autonomy from government control and accountability to be considered a non-state actor for the purposes of listing it as a terrorist entity in Canada.
Listing the IRGC: A Smart Sanction: Listing the IRGC as a terrorist entity is a sanction that would target the nerve centre of Iran’s nuclear, terrorist and human rights abuses. It would also deter Canadian business and financial institutions from dealing with Iranian businesses associated with the IRGC, for fear of fines or other criminal sanctions.
Listing the IRGC: Smart Canadian Policy: Listing the IRGC as a terrorist entity is good policy for the following reasons:
- First, Canada would not be standing alone in listing the IRGC. The U.S., U.N., E.U. and others have all applied various sanctions against the IRGC and/or its leaders.
- Second, listing the IRGC should not be perceived as a departure from existing policy. Listing the IRGC would help achieve the intent of the (limited) sanctions against Iran that Canada has already implemented. Given that Canada has imposed much more severe sanctions against non-global threats like Zimbabwe and Myanmar, listing the IRGC would be a function of maintaining consistent standards in the formulation of sanctions-related policy.
- Third, the IRGC has been directly involved in the murder, injury, torture and incarceration of Canadian citizens, while its support of the Taliban in Afghanistan constitutes a mortal threat to Canadian Forces stationed there. Canada is therefore justified and obligated to take strong measures against the IRGC. To do otherwise is to be derelict in the most basic obligation incumbent upon a sovereign state – to provide maximum protection for its soldiers and citizens.
- Fourth, listing the IRGC would complement other areas of Canadian policy, including the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. It would provide critical “teeth” that this bill will need to help deter Iran and compensate its many victims, and achieve the bill‘s broader objectives of deterring terror and compensating victims.