Amal Clooney backs UN resolution to fight rape as a weapon of war as US 'threatens to veto it'

'This is your Nuremberg moment. Justice isn't inevitable'

Andrew Buncombe
Seattle
Tuesday 23 April 2019 13:34
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Amal Clooney backs UN resolution to fight rape as a weapon of war as US 'threatens to veto it'

Amal Clooney has passionately thrown her support behind a UN resolution seeking to prevent rape being used as weapon of war, even as the US is threatening to veto the measure.

In powerful testimony before a United Nations Security Council meeting, the barrister and activist said there was a global “epidemic of sexual violence”.

“I believe that justice is the antidote,” she said.

Ms Clooney’s comments came in support of a resolution by Germany, the current chair of the security council, that seeks prevent rape being used a a weapon of war and doing more to help its victims.

In an article published in the Washington Post on the eve of her speech, Ms Clooney and German foreign minister Heiko Maasy, called for international support for the efforts.

“Rape and other forms of sexual violence are used as a tactic of war and terrorism in conflicts around the world,” they wrote.

“Though we have seen the first international prosecutions focused on charges of rape and a range of international commitments — such as a pledge not to include amnesty for rape in peace agreements and greater effort to improve training for militaries and for peacekeepers — impunity is still the norm. This impunity has devastating consequences.”

Ms Clooney’s comments, delivered as she sat alongside Iraqi human rights activist Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a member of the Yazidi ethnic group and who endured sexual violence and rape at the hands of Isis captors, came amid reports that the US - one of the security council’s five permanent members that can veto any measure - was planning to block even a watered-down version of the resolution because it objected to language in the measure that referred to reproductive and sexual health

The Guardian said that in recent months, the Trump administration, which relies for much of its support on social conservatives and evangelical Christians, had opposed any UN document that referred to sexual or reproductive health, as it claimed it implied support for abortions.

Life After Sexual Violence: What is it like being triggered? Survivors of sexual violence explain

Republican administrations have long declined to send international aid to any charities that provide family planing or abortions as part of their work, even if the money spent on such services is not from Washington.

The newspaper said the clause in the resolution that was opposed by the US read: “[It] urges United Nations entities and donors to provide non-discriminatory and comprehensive health services, including sexual and reproductive health, psychosocial, legal and livelihood support and other multi-sectoral services for survivors of sexual violence, taking into account the specific needs of persons with disabilities.”

There was no immediate response to enquiries from the US state department. A spokesperson for the US’s UN mission told CNN: “Our diplomatic negotiations are confidential, and we cannot comment on a draft resolution that is still being actively negotiated.”

In her comments, Ms Clooney criticised the US for not supporting the International Criminal Court, the international forum that is based in The Netherlands. The US is among four signatories of the 2002 Rome Statue that established the court, that have since said they do not recognise it.

Last September, Mr Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, said the ICC had failed to “deter and punish atrocity crimes” and was superfluous. The US has said it will do all in its power to prevent US troops being prosecuted by the court and would prevent ICC prosecutors entering the US.

“We will not cooperate with the ICC. For all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us,” he said, speaking before the Federalist Society, a conservative Washington-based think tank.

In her comments, Ms Clooney called on the international community to act.

“This is your Nuremberg moment. Justice isn't inevitable. It doesn't just happen. And it doesn't stand a chance if people in power, including those at this table, don't make it a priority,” she said.

“This is your chance to stand on the right side of history. You owe it to Nadia and the thousands of women and girls who must watch ISIS members...go back to normal life, while they the victims never can.“

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