UN Action on Sexual Violence in War Zones Runs into Headwinds

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United Nations flag. Photo by sanjitbakshi

Nadia Murad

Nadia Murad

The U.S., Russia and China have voiced objections to a draft United Nations resolution proposed by Germany to create a working group to develop commissions of inquiry into allegations of rape and other sex crimes in war zones.

The resolution is set to be addressed Tuesday during an appearance by Yazidi human rights activist and Nobel Prizewinner Nadia Murad.

A draft United Nations resolution aimed at creating a working group to develop measures to address sexual violence and strengthen prevention has run into obstacles from key members of the Security Council, Agence France Presse reports.

The German-sponsored resolution would encourage commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions set up by the United Nations to address rape and other sexual crimes in their investigations of human rights violations in war zones.

It would also urge UN sanctions committees to apply targeted sanctions against rapists and other perpetrators of sexual violence.

UN diplomats said negotiations on the text were “complicated,” according to AFP,  with Russia, China and the United States raising objections.

Russia has questioned the need for the working group while the United States has taken aim at references to the International Criminal Court, which it does not support, and those that deal with reproductive health for rape survivors, according to diplomats.

“There are several outstanding issues with the United States, Russia and China,” said a diplomat.

Among the objections raised was that the working group could undermine the efforts of Pramila Patten, UN envoy for sexual violence. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked Patten to step up action to prevent the use of rape as a weapon of war.

France backs the German draft, but has also proposed an alert mechanism set up for cases of mass rape during conflicts.

Murad was held by the Islamic State fighters for months after they overran her home town in northern Iraq in 2014. She is expected to ask the Security Council to take action against perpetrators of sexual violence.

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