France Condemns U.S. For Watering Down Resolution Opposing Rape In War

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U.N. officials say that American opposition to mentions of sexual health in the resolution was driven by Mike Pence.

The French government has lambasted the Trump administration for forcing United Nations officials to dilute a measure forbidding rape as a war tactic, The Independent reports. Only after the United States threatened to veto the entire resolution unless parts guaranteeing “sexual and reproductive health” aid were removed could the U.N. Security Council pass the resolution.

Diplomats stated that the long-agreed phrase was largely a signal to increase abortion rights.

Some U.N. officials say that the veto threat, one of the latest U.N. policy reversals, was the work of American vice president Mike Pence, known for his hard stance against abortion rights. One White House aid, however, claimed that Pence was not directly involved in discussing the matter with American diplomats during the negotiations. They added, the adopted text in the final resolution "ended up in a place that is closer in line with the White House's priorities.”

French U.N. ambassador Francois Dellatre said that his nation was “appalled” by the demands from the U.S.

“It is intolerable and incomprehensible that the Security Council is incapable of acknowledging that women and girls who suffered from sexual violence in conflict—and who obviously didn’t choose to become pregnant—should have the right to terminate their pregnancy,” he said.

He continued, “We are appalled by the fact that a state has demanded the withdrawal of the reference to sexual and reproductive health—a challenge to 25 years of achievements in favour of women’s rights in situations of armed conflict.”

The phrases advocating for reproductive and sexual health have been widely accepted within the U.N. for a considerable amount of time. The latest resolution featured proposals adopted in 2009 and 2013 by the Security Council as well as several resolutions adopted every year by the General Assembly.

Prior to the vote, U.S. ambassador Jonathan Cohen said to the Security Council, "None of us can turn our backs on this issue. It requires the engagement of all member states and of the United Nations to support the efforts of those fighting to protect women, provide accountability, and support survivors.”

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