|April 25, 2019 -- 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 U.S.
The vote on the German-drafted resolution was held after intense negotiations and additional changes in wording. The amended resolution passed 13-0 with Russia and China abstaining.
France 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 ISIL 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."
Mukwege, a Congolese doctor who was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018, asked: "What is the international community waiting for to give justice for the victims?"
He also called for the establishment of national and international courts to try the perpetrators of sexual violence in conflicts.
Amal Clooney, the human rights lawyer who represents Murad and other Yazidi victims, denounced the weak international response.
"If we don't act now, it will be too late," Clooney said, pointing to the thousands of ISIL group militants currently being held. "I agree that we are facing an epidemic of sexual violence. And I believe that justice is the antidote."
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.
Washington threatened a veto if the text spoke of reproductive rights on the grounds that the message implies support for abortion.