Hollywood duo Pitt, Jolie put spotlight on sexual violence in war

Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:35pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie appeared together on Thursday at a global summit on ending sexual violence in conflict, in a show of celebrity power that British Foreign Secretary William Hague said was helping put a spotlight on the issue of rape as a weapon of war.

Dressed in black, Pitt and Jolie flanked Hague at the opening of the third day of a four-day summit in London that is the culmination of two years' joint work by the actress and Hague.

Up to 1,200 government ministers, officials, activists and members of judiciaries and militaries from more than 120 countries are at the summit that aims to find practical steps to punish those responsible for sex violence and help victims.

Hague said his partnership with Oscar-winning Jolie, special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), had put the issue of sexual violence in conflict on the world agenda and was an example of how foreign policy could be conducted in the future.

"She brings what governments can't ... (as) there was no really big government of the world driving this," Hague told a small media briefing including Reuters.

"You need something much more than government to be able to reach people who don't easily listen to governments and Angelina brings that, as well as having great knowledge and passion about these issues."

Jolie's involvement in humanitarian issues dates back to 2001 when she traveled to Sierra Leone as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and saw the impact of years of civil war when an estimated 60,000 women were raped.

Her link-up with Hague came after he contacted her on seeing her 2011 directorial debut "In the Land of Blood and Honey" set against the 1992-95 Bosnian war in which more than 100,000 people were killed and an estimated 20,000 women believed raped.   Continued...

Actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie (R) poses with husband Brad Pitt (L) and Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague as they arrive at a summit to end sexual violence in conflict, at the Excel centre in London June 12, 2014.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor