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

Ferry connecting Port Hardy and Bella Coola expected to set sail this summer

Its first in-service route will sail in central coast waters on May 18, 2019.

BC Parks Student Ranger Program accepting applications for 2019 season

12 crews of four student rangers will work in regions throughout the province including Bella Coola.

Over $650,00 given to rural communities thanks to Rural Dividends

Five communities, including Williams Lake, are receiving $10,000 for project grants

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

Want to avoid the speculation tax on your vacant home? Rent it out, Horgan says

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Most Read