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Netherlands Affirms Right of Women Raped in Armed Conflict to Abortions as Part of Necessary Medical Care Under International Law

Frans Timmermans, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and Lilaane Ploumen, Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, just affirmed to parliamentary questions submitted in March 2013 in the Netherlands that the foreign ministry agrees with the UK that abortion can be a necessary medical procedure under international humanitarian law, which then must be provided regardless of national laws in countries. The questions were asked by Parliamentarian Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, a Member of the Dutch party D66.

Timmermans and Ploumen state ”It is our opinion that raped women and girls in war zones have the right to any and all necessary medical care of great quality, this includes safe abortions”. The Netherlands also stands ready to engage the US on the issue of the Helms amendment ban on abortion as an obstacle to ensuring women their IHL rights.

An unofficial English translation can be found here.

The Parliamentary questions (in Dutch) can be found here.

The answers (in Dutch) from the Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken are available here.

 

Domestic Criminal Laws That Conflict with International Law: Burma's Abortion and Rape Laws - A Case Study

International law provides a model to improve often outdated domestic laws.

Burma is party to many treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Genocide Convention and the Geneva Conventions. International law requires states to comply with their treaty obligations in “good faith” regardless of whether domestic laws conflict with the treaty. These obligations often include requirements that states modify their domestic laws to ensure compliance with international human rights and humanitarian standards and obligations. For example, the Genocide and Geneva Conventions, ratified by Burma, both require as a part of their fundamental mandates that states pass domestic laws to comply with their treaty obligations. Burma currently has no domestic laws implementing any of its human rights treaty obligations, with the possible exception of its laws against human trafficking.

This document examines Burma’s domestic criminal laws addressing abortion and rape and compares them with the international law standards binding on Burma. These case studies are examples of how international law can be used to reform of Burma’s domestic law to comport with international human rights and humanitarian standards.

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