UN passes sexual violence resolution after reported US veto threat

UN passes sexual violence resolution after reported US veto threat
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The United Nations on Tuesday passed a resolution to combat the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, following a reported U.S. veto threat over a since-removed provision.

The resolution introduced by Germany aims to prevent rape in conflict situations. The measure passed with 13 countries voting "yes." Russia and China abstained.

 

The U.S. had threatened to veto an earlier draft version of the resolution based on language regarding reproductive and sexual health, according to multiple reports.

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Also removed from the resolution was a provision to create a mechanism to monitor and report sexual violence in conflicts, according to The Guardian.

The Trump administration in recent months has opposed U.N. documents that mention sexual or reproductive health, saying that it implies support for abortion. 

The veto threat had come despite the resolution having copied language from previous Security Council resolutions on sexual and reproductive rights, ABC News reported.

In a statement to provided to The Hill on Wednesday, a State Department spokesperson expressed the administration's commitment to both preventing sexual violence and supporting unborn rights.

"The Administration has been consistent on its support for the rights of the unborn. We agreed with Germany on the broader importance of preventing sexual violence in conflict and we are proud to lend our support the amended text," the spokesperson said. "We are pleased that the Germans were willing to amend the Resolution to move this important issue forward."

The spokesperson also explained the administration's opposition to both the original sexual health language and the reporting mechanism.

"The original German resolution would have created a costly new mechanism that would have undermined the independence of the Special Representative of the Secretary General. It also would have subjected the Special Representative to the whims of UN Members States hostile to the office’s mandate, at a substantial cost to nations like the United States, who fought for the office’s independence," the spokesperson said.

"The original German resolution also contained ambiguous language that the UN fund programs that have consistently interpreted as endorsing a right to abortion," the spokesperson added. "The United States cannot, under U.S. law, commit taxpayer monies to the promotion or provision of abortion."

Trump's acting permanent U.N. representative, Jonathan Cohen, said in prepared remarks Tuesday, that the U.S. "is resolute in recognizing that conflict-related sexual violence is a matter of international peace and security."

"It demands collective action to promote prevention, hold perpetrators accountable, and support survivors. None of us can turn our backs on this issue. It requires the engagement of all Member States and of the United Nations to support the efforts of those fighting to protect women, provide accountability, and support survivors."

Updated Wednesday at 3:39 p.m.