Back in May, Angelina Jolie was in London to lend her voice the British Government’s global campaign aimed at tackling sexual violence in conflict zones around the world. Today, she was back in the UK to listen to the Foreign Secretary give his keynote address at the “Preventing sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations” meeting at Wilton Park, Sussex. Hague joked ‘She assures me she is here to meet you and to listen to our discussion, but I also think she may be checking up on whether we have lived up to our promises’.
Following his announcement in May, that Britain would create a team of experts to be deployed to conflict areas around the world to support UN missions and gather evidence about sexual violence, Hague announced yesterday that a 70-strong specialist team of police, lawyers, psychologists, doctors and forensic experts is ready to head overseas to help survivors and witnesses. He said that each deployment will be tailored to meet local needs and circumstances and that the deployments will be based on ‘in-depth assessments of national and international responses in that country to date and how the British team could reinforce or complement existing efforts, as well as consultations with the authorities in each country’.
The Foreign Secretary also pledged additional funding of more than £¼ million over a three-year period to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support to develop policies, guidance and training for use by UN peacekeepers as first responders to incidents of sexual violence.
“I am delighted to be working with Foreign Secretary Hague again on the United Kingdom’s initiative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. In many conflicts, sexual violence is used as a tactic of war, intended to hurt not only a single individual, but their family, their community, their ethnic group”.
Jolie has been drawing attention to some of the worlds worst humanitarian disasters for over 10 years and has worked tirelessly to highlight the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons in over 30 countries including Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, Haiti, Somalia and Thailand.
She further said that sexual violence has almost “become a rule rather than an exception, and we all must work together to combat the impunity and ensure justice for the victims.”
Speaking about the conference, the Foreign Secretary said:
“I believe that a critical mass of public opinion has now begun to build up against the use of rape as a weapon of war in many countries.
“My experience as a politician leads me to believe that this is the moment to mobilise global public opinion and to rally the efforts of nations, in the same way that we have mustered the will to ban the use of landmines and cluster munitions, and are on the verge of securing an international Arms Trade Treaty.
“Shattering the culture of impunity for those who use rape as a weapon of war is the next great global challenge of our generation. It is a cause whose time has come.”
The 70-strong team of police, lawyers, psychologists, doctors and forensic experts will be deployed overseas by the end of the year.
William Hague’s speech can be found here.
Further information about the UNHCR can be found here.