The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday passed a resolution aimed at combatting sexual violence in combat zones, but only after the measure’s language was significantly watered down due to veto threats from the United States against language in the resolution endorsing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services.
“The draft resolution has already been stripped of one of its most important elements, the establishment of a formal mechanism to monitor and report atrocities, because of opposition from the US, Russia and China, which opposed creating a new monitoring body,” the Guardian reported on Tuesday.
The American delegation claimed that prioritizing sexual and reproductive health promoted abortion, which is staunchly opposed by hardliners like Vice President Mike Pence. The US also took issue with the inclusion of the word “gender,” complaining that it strayed too close to defending transgender rights, as well as language in previous resolutions that condemned sexual violence.
The German-authored measure, by the time it was eventually adopted, was a reaffirmation of resolutions from 2009 and 2013 without the proposed, updated provisions.
Per the Guardian:
“The agreed-upon resolution was a sliver of what the Germans had put forward earlier this month. The zero draft included progressive text on strengthening laws to protect and support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who could be targeted during conflict. It also made specific mention of the need for women to have access to safe terminations.”
Pramila Patten, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence, blasted the US for its stance.
“We are not even sure whether we are having the resolution tomorrow, because of the threats of a veto from the US,” Patten told the Guardian.
“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.
One UN delegation official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that American resistance to assisting victims of sexual violence amounts to “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.”
This is embarrassing.
How can they remove all references to sexual and reproductive health in a resolution about RAPE?! Do they not realize reproductive systems are involved?! What in the heck are we doing?!! 😖😠
— Catharine (@BuddhaRuckus) April 23, 2019
So important to call this out, this is the extent of the damage this administration is causing that never gets talked about.
— Paul (@thepet24) April 24, 2019
— Mad MAC (@MADemocracy) April 23, 2019
The US is supposed to be one of the good guys, right?
We are quickly becoming the bad guys.
— 𝐊𝐢𝐦 𝐋𝐲𝐝𝐨𝐧 🐘🐘 (@virgogirl) April 24, 2019
— Kim Ahuja (@kahuja128) April 23, 2019
Old men win again.
— michael slater (@mslater1) April 23, 2019
They want to force 12 year old girls who have been gang raped to bear the child, but refuse to give these victims refugee status.
— Kay Gonzalez (@KayGonzalezcsl) April 23, 2019
Because cruelty is the only tenet
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) April 23, 2019
We’ve become a 3rd world autocracy under Trump
— RoseB (@RoseMB57) April 23, 2019
People see where we are headed, and are rightfully concerned.
Gilead given half a chance, add the "jokey" references to changing the 2 terms maximum from POTUS and you can see where the reactionary alt right fundamentalist ideology is seeping into 🇺🇸 policy home and abroad pic.twitter.com/xHnufSCrsp
— Lee Daly (@LeeDaly19) April 23, 2019
We are truly moving into the dystopian hell of the Handmaid's Tale
— Ellen Corbet (@CorbetEllen) April 23, 2019
Trump administration is driving us back to the Stone Age, it’s not just the in US; there is a global impact.
— suzanz_ (@suzanz_) April 23, 2019
I hate this timeline.
— Angie Bee (@AngieBeemi) April 23, 2019
Though the measure eventually passed 13-2, European allies did not hold back their disgust at what the US pulled.
“We are dismayed by the fact that one state has demanded the removal of the reference to sexual and reproductive health … going against 25 years of gains for women’s rights in situations of armed conflict,” said Francois Delattre, France’s permanent UN representative.
The United Kingdom also expressed dismay over the omission of language that would have saved lives.
“We emphasize the need for a survivor-centered approach. Survivor services should cater to all survivors – with no exception,” said Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK prime minister’s special representative on preventing sexual violence in conflict. “We deeply regret the language on services for survivors of sexual violence, recognizing the acute need for those services to include comprehensive reproductive and separate sexual healthcare.”
He added that the UK would continue to “support access to sexual and reproductive healthcare for survivors of sexual violence around the world. This is a priority. If we are to have a survivor-centered approach, we cannot ignore this important priority.”