BRUSSELS – Actress Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, met on Wednesday with NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the organization’s headquarters in Brussels and agreed to work together in fighting sexual violence in war zones.
Stoltenberg said NATO was not only an alliance providing defense against military threats but also a political alliance based on the core values of democracy, individual liberty, rule of law, and the UN Charter and, therefore, NATO had the responsibility of protecting women’s rights.
“Today, Special Envoy Jolie and I have decided to work together. Focusing on three points: training, monitoring and reporting, and awareness,” Stoltenberg said, adding that the North Atlantic organization had already deployed gender advisors in their military operations in Kosovo and in Afghanistan.
In her first visit to NATO HQ, UNHCR goodwill ambassador Jolie denounced that the use of sexual violence against women and children in war zones had become “increasingly a feature of violence and insecurity worldwide” converting rape into a “weapon of war” seeking “to achieve military or political goals” and a “major factor in the creation of refugee flows.”
“The use of rape as a weapon of war has been regarded, an inevitable feature of conflict, as a lesser crime and a problem too difficult or too uncomfortable for societies to address” Jolie added.
Stoltenberg explained that NATO must “shine a bright light on these darkest of crimes,” and urged for increased awareness on the matter.
Jolie, who, in 16 years in the field focusing on humanitarian help to women in conflict zones, had listened to the plight of women, men, girls and boys who were victims of sexual violence.
She would later meet with military advisors and commanders to discuss how they can work together, addressing training of NATO soldiers and strengthening existing training on combating sexual violence.