Nobel Peace Prize laureates Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege called Tuesday for justice for victims of sexual violence in conflict zones, as the UN Security Council approved a watered-down resolution largely stripped of substance by the United States and Russia.
The vote on the German-drafted resolution was held after intense last minute negotiations and additional changes in wording. Thirteen countries voted in favor while Russia and China abstained.
Both those countries said they opposed sexual violence in conflicts, but denounced “lax interpretations” in the text and a “manipulated” struggle to create new UN structures and “override” mandates already approved.
France vehemently criticized the United States for threatening to use its veto over a reference in the text to reproductive rights, seen by Washington as an encouragement of abortion.
Speaking before the vote, Murad and Mukwege decried the international community’s failure to act.
“Not a single person has been charged for sexual slavery,” said Murad, speaking at the United Nations about massacres of her Yazidi community by the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
“We give speeches at the UN but no real measures have been taken (in terms of obtaining justice) and nothing has been done.”
The German text initially sought to establish a formal working group, set up a mechanism to help bring to justice those responsible and develop victims’ protection by giving formal recognition to their sexual and reproductive rights.
China, Russia and the United States opposed the mechanism, the working group was scrapped and Washington threatened a veto if the text spoke of reproductive rights.