Germany struggles in UN push to address sexual violence

Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad who was held by Islamic State fighters in Iraq for three months is to address the UN Security Council on Tuesday

A German-led bid to step up efforts to combat sexual violence in conflicts has run into resistance at the UN Security Council, diplomats said Wednesday, just days before Nobel laureate Nadia Murad is to appear before the UN body to issue a call for justice.

Germany is pushing for the adoption of a draft resolution next Tuesday during a council debate that will feature Nobel Peace Prize winners Denis Mukwege and Murad, a Yazidi human rights activist.

Murad, who was held by the Islamic State fighters for months after they overran her home town in northern Iraq in 2014, is expected to call on the council to take action against perpetrators of sexual violence.

The German-drafted resolution would establish a working group of the Security Council that would develop measures to address sexual violence and strengthen prevention, according to the draft text seen by AFP.

It would encourage commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions set up by the United Nations to address rape and other sexual crimes in their investigations of human rights violations in war zones.

The measure would also urge UN sanctions committees to apply targeted sanctions against rapists and other perpetrators of sexual violence.

UN diplomats said negotiations on the text were complicated, with Russia, China and the United States raising objections.

Russia has questioned the need for the working group while the United States has taken aim at references to the International Criminal Court, which it does not support, and those that deal with reproductive health for rape survivors, according to diplomats.

"There are several outstanding issues with the United States, Russia and China," said a diplomat.

Some council members argued that the working group could undermine the UN envoy for sexual violence, Pramila Patten, who has been tasked by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with stepping up action to prevent the use of rape as a weapon of war.

France, which backs the German draft, had proposed that there be an alert mechanism set up for cases of mass rape during conflicts.