The Guardian reports that the U.S. has warned that it will veto a United Nations resolution on using rape as a weapon of war. This veto would be due to the resolution’s language concerning reproductive and sexual health.
It was hoped that the resolution would be adopted at a Tuesday special UN security council session. Yet, the resolution has already been dismantled, as one of the most important parts of the draft, the establishment of a mechanism to monitor and report atrocities, has been taken out of the draft due to opposition from the U.S., Russia, and China. China opposed creating another monitoring body.
After the formal monitoring mechanism was taken out of the resolution, the U.S. still wanted to veto the resolution because of the language about family planning clinics. Trump has recently refused to agree to any U.N. documents that mention sexual or reproductive health because he says the language implies support for abortions.
“We are not even sure whether we are having the resolution tomorrow, because of the threats of a veto from the US,” Pramila Patten, the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, said.
Generally, when member states disagree in the security council, previously agreed upon text is used. In this case, though, the U.S. says it will not accept the 2013 resolution on sexual violence.
“They are threatening to use their veto over this agreed language on comprehensive healthcare services including sexual and reproductive health. The language is being maintained for the time being and we’ll see over the next 24 hours how the situation evolves,” Patten said.
“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.”
In the draft, the controversial phrase is only used once. It is used in a clause that “urges United Nations entities and donors to provide non-discriminatory and comprehensive health services, including sexual and reproductive health, psychosocial, legal and livelihood support and other multi-sectoral services for survivors of sexual violence, taking into account the specific needs of persons with disabilities.”
A U.S. mission spokesperson said it “does not comment on draft resolutions that are under active negotiation.”
European states are resisting scrapping the language concerning family planning and women’s health. They think doing so would mean taking a step back in terms of women’s rights.
“If we let the Americans do this and take out this language, it will be watered down for a long time,” an anonymous European diplomat said. “It is, at its heart, an attack on the progressive normative framework established over the past 25 years.”
“Until the Trump administration, we could always count on the Americans to help us defend it. Now the Americans have switched camp,” the diplomat said. “Now it’s an unholy alliance of the US, the Russians, the Holy See, the Saudis and the Bahrainis, chipping away at the progress that has been made.”
Diplomats think that negotiations about the wording will be prolonged. The current draft of the resolution provides no consistent channel to report sexual violence violations to the security council.
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