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Germany and Jolie demand action on war rape

April 23, 2019

Germany's foreign minister and Angelina Jolie want more to be done to fight the use of rape as a war tactic. They issued a plea as the UN prepares to vote on a German resolution tackling the issue but face US opposition.

Angelina Jolie
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/C. Thomas

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Angelina Jolie have penned a joint op-ed in The Washington Post calling on the international community to better support survivors of sexual violence and punish perpetrators who use rape as a weapon of war.

Germany hopes its resolution aimed at tackling these concerns will be adopted at a United Nations Security Council session on Tuesday. But it's facing some resistance from the United States, which has threatened to veto the text over some of the language surrounding reproductive health.

Read moreOpinion: UN must do more to end rape in conflict zones

The main points from Maas and Jolie: 

  • When it comes to rape in conflicts, "impunity is still the norm."
  • Germany is urging "targeted sanctions on those who perpetrate and direct violence."
  • We need better monitoring to be able to "gather evidence of these crimes" and record instances where parties to conflict disregard their obligations.
  • "We must increase support to survivors of sexual violence and ensure their voices are at the center of our response."
  • "All victims deserve full access to justice, compensation and financial support to lead a dignified life."
  • Adopting the resolution "would be a much-needed step toward ending impunity for sexual violence in conflict" and "send an important message to those who attempt to roll back human rights."

Read moreKosovo: Survivors of wartime sexual violence speak out

Special Security Council session: The German mission's resolution on conflict-related sexual violence is due to be debated and put to a vote at the UN Security Council on Tuesday. It's a significant occasion for Germany, which is the current holder of the council's presidency. Actor Angelina Jolie, the co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative, is a key supporter of the effort.

Changes to the text: According to diplomatic sources cited by German news agency dpa, the resolution has been watered down significantly in negotiations leading up to the debate. For example, mention of setting up a formal mechanism to monitor and report atrocities was scrapped after opposition from China, the US and Russia.

Read moreGermany takes over UN Security Council presidency

Battle over wording: A diplomat told dpa the US had also threatened to veto the text over statements about women's sexual and reproductive health. Germany and other European states such as the UK and France are reluctant to make changes to the language on access to family planning, warning it would be a step backwards for women's rights. The US frequently objects at the UN to such wording, which it sees as endorsing abortion.

nm/aw (dpa, AFP)

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