Angelina Jolie calls on NATO troops to confront sexual abuse
NATO was abuzz Wednesday as a scrum of bureaucrats and reporters packed the headquarters lobby while Hollywood star Angelina Jolie delivered a message that allies must do more to counter sexual violence.
Jolie, who serves as the United Nations’ special envoy on refugees, said she would be working closely with the military alliance in the months ahead in a push to get NATO more involved in stemming violence against women and children.
“I am here because I believe we need those who have the capacity to make change to be focused on the right things,” said Jolie, who was flanked by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
If allies are more engaged, “they can make a change, and it is a choice,” she said.
The actress’ visit to Brussels came on the heels of a watchdog report that faulted the U.S. military for turning a blind eye to abuses by Afghan soldiers, who have been accused of sexually assaulting boys and girls. Last week, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction determined that the military provided funding to Afghan units despite an awareness of such human rights violations.
When asked about the abuses, Jolie said, “There is a lot more work to be done.”
Jolie convened in Brussels with the alliance’s North Atlantic Council and Military Committee. She was slated to meet with NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti.
Stoltenberg said NATO intends to make countering sexual violence more of a focus.
“Special envoy Jolie and I have decided to work together, focusing on three points: training, monitoring and reporting, and awareness,” he said.
NATO already conducts predeployment training for soldiers on sexual violence issues, and allied troops are required to monitor and report instances of sexual violence when they are suspected.
However, those programs will be enhanced, Stoltenberg said.
“We must be faster and more systematic in our reporting,” he said.
Jolie said her goal was to help NATO in areas where it does training affecting civilians in places like Afghanistan.
Sexual violence and rape as a weapon of war have long been a scourge in conflict zones. Jolie said action is needed to end “the impunity.”
Over the years, there has been “too much discussion and very little action,” she said.