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UN adopts resolution on sexual violence amid abortion dispute with US

David Wainer, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution condemning sexual violence in warfare, but only after language on a woman's right to "reproductive health" was removed to avert a veto by the anti-abortion Trump administration.

The German-sponsored resolution expresses "deep concern at the full range of threats and human rights violations and abuses experienced by women and girls in armed conflict and post-conflict situations." It passed Tuesday with 13 votes in favor and abstentions by Russia and China.

Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. has grown increasingly hostile toward resolutions at the U.N. General Assembly promoting sexual and reproductive health. The U.S. says such language gives implicit backing for abortion.

"We are extremely surprised that some states asked to withdraw sexual and reproductive health rights" from the resolution text, said Francois Delattre, France's ambassador to the world body. "This kind of omission is unacceptable and undermines the dignity of women."

European ambassadors lamented the removal of the disputed language even as they lauded passage of a resolution intended to fight the rape of women and girls during wars. Among speakers urging action against sexual violence in emotionally charged speeches were Nobel Peace Laureates Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.

The resolution calls for commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions as mechanisms to verify and investigate allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights law.


Clooney, who represents Murad, a Yazidi refugee, called on the council to bring Islamic State perpetrators of rape to justice, telling diplomats this was their "Nuremberg moment." U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world body is prioritizing the fight against sexual violence.

"Sexual violence continues to be a horrific feature of conflicts around the world," Guterres said.

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