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Update on UN healthcare in war vote

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rape in conflcit, medical care for victimsUN passes resolution for provision of healthcare for survivors of sexual violence in conflict.

In a move that acknowledges the extent of and destruction caused by sexual violence in conflict the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 2106 regarding preventing, prosecuting and dealing with the aftermath of sexual crimes.

Resolution 2106 directly addresses the need for the provision of healthcare that is fast, universal – and includes abortion services.

In a debate ‘led by the United Kingdom’ – according to a press statement released by the Global Justice Centre (GJC) – and supported unequivocally by France, the Netherlands and Sweden, the resolution was outlined and ‘unanimously’ agreed.

The controversy surrounding the United States’ (USA) long-standing approach of banning abortion services from being included in medical aid in humanitarian contexts – and this included for impregnated victims of rape in conflict – was definitively resolved with the USA’s stance explicitly rejected in the resolution.

The resolution ‘urges United Nations entities and donors to provide non-discriminatory and comprehensive health services’ including for ‘sexual and reproductive health’.

‘Although the word ‘abortion’ was not used, the ‘non-discriminatory health services’ provision is an enormous breakthrough in the fight to end the deadly denial of abortion for female victims impregnated by war rape’, said Janet Benshoof, president of the Global Justice Centre.

The Global Justice Centre has campaigned vociferously on this issue, insisting that to deny survivors access to abortion contravenes their human rights as per the Geneva convention and prolongs suffering inhumanely.

And to put pressure on the USA to implement Resolution 2106 the GJC launched a petition that calls on President Obama to drop the ban on abortion services.

Although the resolution is an example of great progress and illustrates commitment to tackling this issue, only one of the 23 statements on sexual violence in conflict refers directly to the provision of healthcare.

And the UNSC itself acknowledged in the document that it was ‘deeply concerned over the slow implementation of important aspects of resolution 1960 (2010) to prevent sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations’.

United Nations Women (UNWomen), supporters of resolution 2106, pointed out that this is the fourth resolution that focused on conflict-related sexual violence.

This plethora of resolutions may reflect a growth in the understanding of sexual crimes in conflict.

It could also infer that previous resolutions have been insufficient and ineffective.

However, UN Women identifies a shift, saying that Resolution 2106 adds greater operational detail to previous resolutions on this topic and exhorts all Member States and United Nations entities to do more to implement the earlier mandates and to combat impunity.

Overall the focus of the document is on preventing sexual crimes in conflict and ensuring that states bear the primary responsibility to respect and ensure the human rights of all persons within their territory and encouraging an erosion of impunity for both perpetrators and states that commit, collude in or fail to address sexual crimes in conflict.

It is positive to address prevention. Successfully halting this crime would avert the suffering of potential victims and remove the need for healthcare provision for survivors.

Currently, point 20 of Resolution 2106 regarding healthcare for survivors of sexual crimes is necessary and it is encouraging that the UNSC indisputably and comprehensively requires states to adhere to providing non-discriminatory, universal healthcare.

The UNSC stated officially in the resolution that it will: ‘remain actively seized of the matter’.

Likewise it is our responsibility as persons with a moral duty of care, as manifested in international human rights laws, to ensure that this resolution is implemented swiftly and effectively, with the overall goal of entirely eradicating sexual crimes in conflict.

  1. vicki wharton says:

    Until we end the situation in our country where women publicly are equal, privately are subject to abuse promoted as a right by the male media and male led government, this is just more hypocrisy. You cannot have a system of human rights where you have human rights outside the home that disappear inside the home. We have to start challenging men to walk the walk on equality rather than talk the talk. Most of what they say do is just hot air.

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