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Angelina Jolie embraces new role for UK's Hague

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 15 Jul 2014 22:22 GMT
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U.S. actress and director Angelina Jolie greets Britain's Foreign Secretary William hague ahead of a screening of her new film 'In the Land of Blood and Honey' at the Foreign Commonwealth Office in central London, May 29, 2012. REUTERS/Pool/Dan Kitwood
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NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation)—Actress and United Nations special envoy Angelina Jolie said on Tuesday that she looked forward to a continued collaboration with former British foreign secretary William Hague in the fight against sexual violence in conflict.

Hague resigned on Monday as head of Britain’s Foreign Office and will now serve as the UK’s special representative on preventing sexual violence in conflict.

Jolie, who is the special envoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and Hague have worked closely together on the issue of mass rapes and sexual abuse in war and other conflict zones since 2012. Together they hosted the first global summit on the issue of sexual violence in conflict, which drew more than 1,200 representatives from over 120 countries to a four-day conference in London last month.

"I'm delighted that William Hague has been appointed the Prime Minister's Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, and to see the UK's continuing leadership on this issue,” said Jolie in a statement provided to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“William and I are now very much focused on the next stage of our campaign. We will be asking countries to live up to the promises they made at the London Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, and working alongside them in that effort,” she added.

“We are both absolutely committed to this cause and to our partnership on this issue."

Hague has said that he initially became drawn to the issue of sexual violence against women in conflict through Jolie’s directorial debut in the 2011 film, “In the Land of Blood and Honey.”   The film, which unfolds against the backdrop of the 1992-95 ethnic conflict in Bosnia, is set in detention camps where rape was used as a weapon of war on up to 50,000 women.

Jolie has said she began to campaign against sexual violence in conflict after a visit to Sierra Leone in 2001 as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and witnessing the lasting effect of years of civil war during which an estimated 60,ooo women were raped.

Since teaming up with Jolie in 2012, Hague has travelled with her to meet with rape victims and other survivors of sexual violence in a number of countries. They visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2013, where UNICEF estimates an average of 36 women and girls are raped daily in the ongoing conflict there.

This past spring they went to Bosnia and Herzegovina,  where they spoke with survivors of rape in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war, and in Srebrenica, the site of numerous rapes of Bosnian Muslim women and girls and the genocide of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men.

In 2013, Hague and Jolie, along with Zainab Hawa Bangura, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, launched a G8 Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Since signed by up to 150 countries, the declaration contains pledges to end impunity for acts of sexual violence in conflict and outlines how to investigate and prosecute rape and provide services for victims.

Goals at the June summit in London also provision of more training for soldiers and peacekeepers in preventing such violence, increased support for victims and efforts to raise global awareness of the problem. 

(Editing by Maria Caspani: maria.caspani@thomsonreuters.com) 

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