Angelina Jolie urges UN to renew efforts to stop sexual violence in war

While in B.C., Jolie listed the promises, laws that have failed to eliminate sexual violence in war

Angelina Jolie delivered a stinging rebuke Wednesday of global efforts to stop the use of sexual violence in war and called on the UN to finally help turn the tide.

The Academy Award-winning actress was addressing foreign dignitaries and military officials attending the two-day United Nations peacekeeping summit, where the role of women in preventing conflict figured prominently.

The meeting also saw a renewed push to prevent the use of child soldiers and better protect children caught in conflict, as attendees unveiled a series of commitments signed by 53 countries.

Canada played a key role in advancing both conversations as host of the meeting and by pledging $21 million to increase the number and role of women in peacekeeping missions and military operations.

The pledge was made amid a growing recognition that female personnel are essential when it comes to many peacekeeping tasks, such as helping victims of sexual violence and interacting with local women in the field.

It also coincides with ongoing concerns about peacekeepers themselves sexually abusing or exploiting the very populations they have been ordered to protect.

Yet only 7 per cent of the 13,000 police officers deployed as peacekeepers and two per cent of the 87,000 military personnel are women, and those numbers have remained stagnant despite promises to double them.

READ MORE: Protesters pose as reporters to interrupt Trudeau’s speech in Vancouver

During her address, Jolie, who is also a special envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, listed the many promises, laws and resolutions that have failed to eliminate sexual violence from war.

And she didn’t pull any punches as she blasted the UN’s failure to increase the number of female peacekeepers deployed on missions, or its efforts to stop peacekeepers from sexually abusing vulnerable populations.

“It has 21 years since the UN first promised to address sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers and to increase the number of women deployed in operations,” she said.

“Yet the exploitation of defenceless civilians still takes place. And still less than four per cent of all peacekeepers are women.”

But there was also an acknowledgment that a cultural shift is afoot, with Jolie saying that many military leaders have started “to address the taboos around these issues and to take action.”

Canada along with the United Kingdom and Bangladesh were singled out for special mention for promising to work together to increase the number of women and better incorporate gender perspectives in their militaries.

That initiative was only one of several unveiled by the Trudeau government on Wednesday, along with a pledge of $21 million to boost the number of women in peacekeeping operations around the world.

The money included $6 million to help with reforms at the UN and $15 million for a new trust fund that will be used to help countries increase the number of women in their respective militaries.

The money could be used to facilitate partnerships with other countries that already boast sizable female contingents, and provide incentives to increase the deployment of women into the field.

Several European countries also pledged to dramatically increase the number of female soldiers and police officers assigned to peacekeeping missions.

“I hope they are just the beginning,” Jolie said. “We will not only strengthen our societies and improve peacekeeping.”

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

World’s largest hockey stick getting new lights

New lighting system can change colours and patterns

VIDEO: Strong cast tells the story of how justice solves all problems in ‘Measure for Measure’

Plenty of passion with dollops of comedy to leaven the story as Shakespeare Festival continues

Sarah Simpson Column: Good deeds save the day

Is it fair to call it the dog days of summer? I… Continue reading

Driver airlifted after head-on crash on TCH in Duncan Friday

Two people were seriously injured in a head-on crash on the TCH in Duncan yesterday night.

Join the fun at Rotary’s Ogilvie memorial golf tournament Aug. 23

Besides golfing with friends, you are helping fund worthwhile programs

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read