Actress Angelina Jolie made her debut before the U.N. Security Council Monday and urged the world's nations to make the fight against rape in war a top priority.
"Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the UN high commissioner for refugees, said the security council has witnessed 67 years of wars and conflict since it was established "but the world has yet to take up warzone rape as a serious priority".
"You set the bar," she told the council. "If the … council sets rape and sexual violence in conflict as a priority it will become one and progress will be made. If you do not this horror will continue."
The British foreign secretary, William Hague, who presided over the meeting, stressed that "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".
Soon after Jolie spoke the council adopted a legally binding resolution demanding 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 UN and donors to assist survivors.
It was the broadest resolution adopted by the council on the sexual violence in conflict. Hague said Britain planned to follow up by convening a global gathering during the annual general assembly meeting of world leaders in September to keep up the pressure for action."
The UN special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, reported to the council that she traveled to Bosnia two weeks ago where an estimated 50,000 women were victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence during the war, with only a handful of the perpetrators having been prosecuted.
Later, at the Ford Foundation, she told of traveling to Africa with British foreign secretary, William Hague, and visiting the village of Mambasa in eastern Congo's Ituri district where "11 babies aged six to 12 months had been raped, 59 children aged one to three years old had been raped and 182 girls aged five to 15 years old had been raped."
"Who will rape a baby?," Bangura asked. "It means you want to wipe the community away. That's the only explanation you can have."
UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, praised Jolie for being the voice of millions of refugees forced to flee their homes "and now for the many survivors of wartime rape whose bodies have been used as battlegrounds".