On April 23, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2467 on sexual violence in conflict, with China and Russia abstaining, after a lengthy debate which included briefings by Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and barrister Amal Clooney, amongst others.
Richard Arbeiter, Canadian Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, speaking on behalf of 55 Member States, “expressed concern that despite the systematic use of sexual violence by groups such as ISIL/Da’esh and Boko Haram, no individuals from these groups have been convicted for sexual violence crimes. The United Nations must ensure that robust legal and institutional arrangements are in place to address this crime.”
Arbeiter continued saying that Canada’s “feminist foreign policy places gender considerations at the core of its global engagement.” He spoke of the efforts in “Myanmar where Canada is working with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to address systematic barriers to sexual and reproductive health and rights.”Unfortunately, in a compromise to avoid a United States veto, language specifically addressing sexual and reproductive health was removed from the resolution, which had come from Germany. This seriously undermines the usefulness of this resolution, the ninth to fall under the umbrella of the women, peace and security agenda.
For discussions of the implications of this compromise, the following articles offer varying perspectives:
- In pursuing a new resolution on sexual violence Security Council significantly undermines women’s reproductive rights (London School of Economics, Centre for Women, Peace and Security)
- At the UN, the US Darkens Women’s Right to Abortion (PassBlue)
- UN waters down rape resolution to appease US’s hardline abortion stance (The Guardian)
- United States dilutes UN rape-in-war resolution (BBC)