Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP/Richard Drew)

Trump administration forces UN to water down anti-rape resolution after veto threat

The U.S. threatened to veto the resolution entirely over language referring to "sexual and reproductive health"


Igor Derysh
April 25, 2019 10:04AM (UTC)

The United Nations was forced to water down a resolution on combating rape in conflict-torn nations after the Trump administration threatened to veto the measure over language referring to reproductive health.

The United Nations Security Council approved the resolution Tuesday after the United States fought for language referring to reproductive health care for rape survivors to be removed. The security council was also forced to withdraw the creation of a new monitoring body to report atrocities because of opposition by the United States, Russia, and China, The Guardian reported.

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The United States threatened to veto the resolution entirely over language referring to "sexual and reproductive health."

The resolution included 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,” The Guardian reported.

UN officials fought the move. Primila Patten, the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, told The Guardian Monday that it would 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.”

But the Trump administration won out, leaving European allies furious.

“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,” Tariq Ahmad, the United Kingdom’s special representative on preventing sexual violence in conflict, told The Guardian. “If we are to have a survivor-centred approach, we cannot ignore this important priority.”

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French permanent representative to the UN Francois Delattre said the country was “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.”

The move to strip the reproductive health language from the resolution came after similar previous attempts failed. The administration failed in its attempt to remove language referring to sexual and reproductive health from multiple resolutions before the General Assembly, The Independent reported. The Trump administration is also seeking to eliminate the word “gender” from UN human rights documents, according to The Guardian.

The attempts to weaken the resolution by the United States, Russia, and China had been a point of concern for advocacy group’s before the Trump administration’s veto threat. Last month, 10 NGOs said in a statement that it was a dangerous to adopt such a “weak resolution” given the “further hardening of antidemocratic and decidedly misogynistic stances in the UN security council.”

“Some powerful members of the security council, such as Russia, China and the USA, are undermining women’s rights and once again questioning, for example, women’s and girls’ right to self-determination,” the statement said. “Through such actions, the achievements that have already been made could be shattered and the ‘women, peace and security’ agenda overall decisively weakened.”

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Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is a New York-based political writer whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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