The U.S. is reportedly threatening to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at preventing the use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war and terrorism. The issue at hand? The proposal includes promises to provide reproductive and sexual health support to survivors of rape in conflict — and the U.S. is allegedly having none of it.
Germany, the current president of the Security Council, proposed the draft resolution, which is slated to be discussed in New York on Tuesday. As German foreign minister Heiko Maas and actress-activist Angelina Jolie explained in a Washington Post op-ed, the resolution seeks to punish perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict, improve the monitoring of such violence and boost support for the survivors of these atrocities.
According to The Guardian, the U.S. has already succeeded in hobbling the resolution after it — together with Russia and China — opposed a clause that promised the creation of a new monitoring body that would have tracked and reported such crimes.
The formal monitoring mechanism was removed from the resolution, The Guardian reported, but the American delegation’s veto threat has not been withdrawn.
“We are not even sure whether we are having the resolution tomorrow, because of the threats of a veto from the U.S.,” Pramila Patten, the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, told the British paper on Monday.
According to Patten, the U.S. is unhappy with language in the resolution that refers to the provision of “comprehensive healthcare services including sexual and reproductive health” to rape survivors.
This language has been interpreted by the U.S. as a reference to abortion, CNN reported. A UN source told the network that this is a “red line” for the U.S. ― which, under the Trump administration, has been pushing an anti-abortion agenda both at home and abroad.
CNN said Tuesday that a member of the German delegation has made potential edits to the resolution, including “removing references to ‘health services’ and the ‘sexual and reproductive health’ of victims of sexual violence” in an attempt to assuage the U.S. CNN said it had reviewed the altered draft.
Patten had told The Guardian that removing language about sexual and reproductive healthcare services from the resolution would be a “huge contradiction.”
“It will be a huge contradiction that you are talking about a survivor-centered approach and you do not have language on sexual and reproductive healthcare services, which is for me the most critical,” she said.
American human rights activist Noor Sheikh said that she was “ashamed” of her home country for undermining the healthcare needs of sexual violence survivors.
“The possibility that the U.S. could veto the resolution is all the more shocking when you consider the contexts described in the report — widespread and systematic gang rapes of Rohingya women and girls in Burma; institutionalized sexual slavery of Yazidi and other minority communities by ISIS in Syria and Iraq; and the rape of young girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan by state armed forces and militia groups alike,” Sheikh wrote in a Saturday op-ed.
“Any country denying abortion to women who have become pregnant after rape would be subjecting them to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. By forcing victims of rape to carry the pregnancy caused by their sexual abuse, the U.S. will also be directly contributing to more suffering of countless victims of such violence,” she added.
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