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

OPINION: Ten signs that Port Alice has changed

“Right now, our lack of amenities is holding back economic growth in our village”

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Port McNeill council discusses ‘bear aware’ and what you can do to stay safe

Port McNeill’s Conservation Officer Brad Adams gave a presentation about being ‘bear aware’.

Port Hardy RCMP release tips to prevent fraud and theft from vehicles

In many of the incidents reported, “the vehicles that were broken into were unlocked.”

Stranded hikers rescued by helicopter on Mt. Schoen

Campbell River Search and Rescue used hoist operation to rescue trio

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

Island murder victim’s mom expresses outrage over mental fitness decision of the accused

Smith vows to keep fighting until justice served for Descoteau

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

Most Read