US successfully removes 'sexual health' references from UN resolution on sexual violence

The US successfully used the threat of its veto power on the UN Security Council to demand significant changes to a resolution on sexual violence. The altered resolution passed on Tuesday following major changes granted by Germany in the face of demands from the US, sources told CNN.

CNN previously reported on the threat of a US veto over simple references to "health services" and "sexual and reproductive health" in a UN Security Council resolution targeting rape as a weapon of war and reaffirming the UN's opposition to sexual violence.

CNN obtained a draft of the resolution ahead of the vote that showed potential changes marked in the margins by a member of the German delegation to satisfy what multiple sources said were US issues with the language of the proposal. While a source told CNN ahead of the vote that the hope was the changes, including making a reference to a past resolution that did mention reproductive health, would be enough to solidify support, the later iteration of the resolution obtained by CNN saw Germany ceding further ground to the US demands on the issue.

French ambassador to the UN François Delattre noted after the vote that previous resolutions had indicated support for sexual and reproductive health and the move otherwise on Tuesday undermined the dignity of women, according to a translation of Delattre's remarks at the UN. Despite the changes, the German mission to the UN touted the passage of its resolution and called it "a resounding expression of our will to strengthen the international response to sexual violence."

But activists were angry at the US move.

"It is unthinkable and bizarre to see the US lining up with Russia and China to block efforts to strengthen the UN's ability to effectively address rape in conflict and to provide sexual violence survivors with sexual and reproductive health services," read a statement from Jessica Neuwirth of the Sisterhood Is Global Institute.

A statement from the group attributed to Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for their efforts to combat sexual violence, said that "there is simply no excuse for continuing to fail those who have already been victimized -- as well as those who continue to be at risk of -- devastating levels of sexual violence in conflict."

The US move against the UN resolution is "just another expression of the contempt that this administration has for women's rights and reproductive health and rights," said Stacie Murphy, Director of Congressional Relations at Population Connection Action Fund. "It's certainly typical of this administration when it comes to anything having to do with reproductive rights, sexual assault," Murphy said. Read more via CNN