UN waters down resolution on sexual violence in conflict on US' demands
Updated : April 24, 2019 01:50 PM IST
A US threat to veto UN Security Council action on sexual violence in conflict was averted on Tuesday after a long-agreed phrase was removed because President Donald Trump's administration sees it as code for abortion, diplomats said.
A German-drafted resolution was adopted after a reference was cut referring to the need for UN bodies and donors to give timely "sexual and reproductive health" assistance to survivors of sexual violence in conflict.
The US veto threat was the latest in a string of policy reversals that some UN diplomats say has been driven by US Vice President Mike Pence, a conservative Christian who staunchly opposes abortion rights.
Pence was not involved in directing US diplomats during the negotiations, a White House aide said, but added that the adopted text "ended up in a place that is closer in line with the White House's priorities."
Acting US Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen did not speak after the council vote.
After the vote, French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre told the 15-member body: "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."
The language promoting sexual and reproductive health is long-agreed internationally, including in resolutions adopted by the Security Council in 2009 and 2013 and several resolutions adopted annually by the 193-member General Assembly.
The text adopted on Tuesday simply reaffirms the council's commitment to the 2009 and 2013 resolutions. A reference to the work of the International Criminal Court in fighting the most serious crimes against women and girls was also watered-down to win over Washington, which is not a member of the institution.