Angelina Jolie urges world to end rape in war

Updated: 2013-06-25 09:30


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Angelina Jolie urges world to end rape in war

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) special envoy, actress Angelina Jolie, listens during a United Nations Security Council meeting on women, peace, security, and sexual violence in conflict at United Nations Headquarters in New York June 24, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

UNITED NATIONS - Angelina Jolie made her debut before the UN's most powerful body as a special envoy for refugees Monday and urged the world's nations to make the fight against rape in war a top priority.

The actress told the Security Council that "hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of women, children and men have been raped in conflicts in our lifetimes."

Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the UN high commissioner for refugees, said the Security Council has witnessed 67 years of wars and conflict since it was established "but the world has yet to take up warzone rape as a serious priority."

"You set the bar," she told the council. "If the ... council sets rape and sexual violence in conflict as a priority it will become one and progress will be made. If you do not, this horror will continue."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who presided over the meeting, stressed that "in conflicts in nearly every corner of the globe, rape is used systematically and ruthlessly, in the almost certain knowledge that there will be no consequences for the perpetrators."

Soon after Jolie spoke, the council adopted a legally-binding resolution demanding the complete and immediate cessation of all acts of sexual violence by all parties to armed conflict. It noted that sexual violence can constitute a crime against humanity and a contributing act to genocide, called for improved monitoring of sexual violence in conflict, and urged the UN and donors to assist survivors.

It was the broadest resolution adopted by the council on the sexual violence in conflict. Hague said Britain plans to follow-up by convening a global gathering during the annual General Assembly meeting of world leaders in September to keep up the pressure for action.

Hague said at a discussion later at the Ford Foundation that his prime motivation for pressing for global action against sexual violence was the 1990s war in Bosnia, partly because of an adviser but also because of Jolie's 2011 film, "In the Land of Blood and Honey," about former lovers who end up on the opposite sides of the conflict. He said he arranged the film's British premiere at the Foreign Office and has been campaigning with Jolie since then, including a visit to Congo in March, "to move the stigma and the shame from the victim to the perpetrator."  

"The time has come for the world to take a strong and determined stand to make clear that the systematic use of rape as a weapon is not acceptable in the modern world and our objective is to change the entire global attitude to these issues," Hague said.

Getting the whole world talking about sexual violence in conflict and the need to punish perpetrators not victims "will shift attitudes - maybe over a period of years, but we have begun," he said.

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