Amal Clooney Spoke Up For Victims Of Sexual Violence In A Powerful Speech To The UN
Amal Clooney delivered a passionate speech on preventing sexual violence being used as a weapon of war at a UN meeting in New York on April 23. The activist and human rights lawyer challenged the UN members to vote in favour of a resolution against sexual violence in conflict as America tried to veto the measure.
Clooney, who was representing Yazidi survivors (an ethnic Kurdish group) of sexual violence, sat next to human rights activist Nadia Murad Basee Taha. Murad, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was raped and tortured by members of Isis and her family were murdered. “This is your Nuremberg moment. Justice isn’t inevitable. It doesn’t just happen. And it doesn’t stand a chance if people in power, including those at this table, don’t make it a priority,” Clooney said, urging the members to vote in favour.
The US removed all references to sexual and reproductive health in the resolution. In the lead up to the debate, the Trump administration opposed a phrase in the resolution believing that it implies support for abortion: “Recognising the importance of providing timely assistance to survivors of sexual violence, urges United Nations entities and donors to provide non-discriminatory and comprehensive health services, in line with Resolution 2106.”
The original resolution has also been championed by other public figures. France’s UN ambassador Francois Delattre said that America’s proposed amended resolution undermined the dignity of women. Actor and activist Angelina Jolie penned an op-ed with German foreign minister Heiko Maas in the Washington Post advocating the resolution, writing: “[It] 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.”
Clooney, who has been representing Yazidis since 2017, continued: “This is your chance to stand on the right side of history. You owe it to Nadia and the thousands of women and girls who must watch Isis members… go back to normal life, while they the victims never can.” The amended resolution passed 13-0, with Russia and China abstaining.
Last month, Clooney was appointed as a special envoy for the UK government. The new role will see her highlight attacks and restrictions placed on journalists around the world. Previously, Clooney fought for journalist Khadija Ismayilova to be released from prison following her arrest due to her investigative work. Following the trial, Ismayilova was released in 2016.