Speaking in the capacity of special envoy to the United Nations Security Council on Monday, actress and influential humanitarian Angelina Jolie, 37, delivered a prepared speech to council members with composure and compassion.
Jolie's presentation was announced an hour before the meeting convened.
Jolie, a mother of six, sought to personalize the age-old war crime, which she referred to as a “tool of war,” by giving vivid details from accounts told to her personally by victims she visited in numerous refugee camps in 2012, when she served as Goodwill Ambassador to the UN High Commission for Refugees.
Hundreds of thousands have been victims of brutality in war zones for decades and Jolie asked the members to think of each one “as a person with a name, personality, a story, and dreams no different than ours and those of our children." She spoke calmly of stories about small children being publicly raped near police stations, only to have authorizes turn a blind eye. It’s a common story, she implied.
"Let us be clear what we're speaking of," said Jolie, in a taped video posted by USA Today. “Young girls raped and impregnated before their bodies are able to carry a child, causing fistula. Boys held at gunpoint and forced to sexually assault their mothers and sisters. Women raped with bottles, wood branches and knives to cause as much damage as possible."
Jolie called it the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. She told the council they need to “set the bar” and asked them to prioritize prosecuting rape and sexual violence in war.
“What is needed is political will,” said Jolie in a straightforward manner. “And that is what is being asked of your countries.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague agreed: In conflicts in nearly every corner of the globe, rape is used systematically and ruthlessly, in the almost certain knowledge that there will be no consequences for the perpetrators.
Jolie’s critical testimony, along with major support from the Hague and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was influential in getting a major resolution passed by the council on Monday afternoon.
According to U.N. Hosted News, the broad and legally binding resolution “demanded the complete and immediate cessation of all acts of sexual violence by all parties to armed conflict. It noted that sexual violence can constitute a crime against humanity and a contributing act to genocide, called for improved monitoring of sexual violence in conflict, and urged the U.N. and donors to assist survivors.”
Ban Ki-moon urged the council to join a global “coalition of champions determined to break this evil.”
Jolie, who recently made headlines when she announced she had a cancer preventative double-mastectomy, has toured extensively in areas of conflict, including a recent trip to Syrian refugee camps, where sexual violence has been increasing and visits to hot-spots in Africa and Jordan.
Angelina Jolie's testimonial video.
Jean Williams, environmental and political journalist; PrairieDogPress writer; Artistic Director, Keystone Prairie Dogs.***PrairieDogPress is the media channel for keystone-prairie-dogs.com, which is a fundraising website to support environmental groups for extraordinary efforts to protect Great Plains habitat and prairie dogs in the wild. PDP uses humorous images, social commentary and serious-minded political reports to challenge government on numerous levels, including accountability to the people, the protection of threatened species, the environment and Earth’s natural resources.