During debates in the week of 16 November at the UN General Assembly on social and humanitarian affairs and human rights issues, the US mission unsuccessfully called for removal of any mention of reproductive health in UN documents, even though they backed eight amendments to resolutions on violence against women and girls, trafficking of women and girls, FGM, and early, child and forced marriages.
In one vote on treating medical complications from childbirth, which was expected to be uncontroversial, the US tabled an amendment calling for the removal of references to the World Health Organization and the UN Population Fund. They found themselves its only supporter, with 153 countries against and 11 abstaining. Other amendments by the US drew support from only 4-14 supporters. Their only consistent allies were Russia, Belarus, Syria, Qatar and the Pacific island states of Nauru and Palau.
In a resolution about providing healthcare to women and girls during the Covid-19 pandemic, the US wanted to remove the phrase “essential health services” from a text calling for “healthcare services as essential services for all women and girls, especially those who are most vulnerable to violence and stigma”. Perhaps the WHO support for safe abortion as an essential health service earlier this year made them believe that “all healthcare services” is a hidden reference to abortion services, just as they believe SRHR is.
One diplomat said the spectacle of a western ally and a superpower so totally isolated was “staggering”. Another said. “It’s not really surprising… and we are used to this, but it was more aggressive now in that they teamed up with Russia, and they targeted African resolutions. They did not do that last time.”
SOURCE: Guardian, by Julian Borger, 19 November 2020 ; PHOTO