Here’s What Actually Happened At The Summit To End Sexual Violence In Conflict

Hint: it’s not just about Angelina Jolie


by Sophie Cullinane |
Published on

It’s the last day of the Summit To End Sexual Violence today, and if you’ve been following the recent press coverage of the event, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only thing that’s actually been happening at the event is Angelina Jolie. And maybe William Hague. But the summit, which was co-chaired by Angelina Jolie, William Hague and the Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, welcomed 100 countries and over 900 experts, NGOs, survivors, faith leaders and international organisations from all over the world in order to share a commitment to end sexual violence in conflict. It has been the biggest global meeting on the issue that’s ever been organised and it’s been a powerful initiative to end a crime that Hague called one of the ‘great ass crimes of our culture.'

Here’s what actually happened at the event.

Yes, Angie and William Hague were there…

And, opening the summit, they both stressed the desperate and urgent need to end the use of rape as a weapon during times of conflict. ‘From the abolition of slavery to the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, we have shown that the international community can tackle vast global problems in a way that was once considered to be impossible,' Hague said. ‘There is power in numbers, and if we unite behind this cause, we can create an unstoppable momentum and consign this vile abuse to history.’

Dedicating the conference to a rape victim she met in Bosnia who was so humiliated by her experience she couldn’t even tell her own son in her opening speech, Angelina added: ‘We need to shatter that culture of impunity and make justice the norm, not the exception, for these crimes. She felt that having had no justice for her particular crime, in her particular situation, and having seen the actual man who raped her on the streets free, she really felt abandoned by the world. This day is for her.'

**The event wasn’t just to raise awareness **

It has some very specific and palpable aims. At the summit, the UK government and international pledged to ‘shatter the culture of impunity by launching a new International Protocol’, with standards for documenting and investigating sexual violence in war zones that would apply all over the world. The idea is that, by having an international protocol in place, prosecution for rape in conflict will be strengthened and simplified, which can only be a good thing right? The has also been a call for soldiers and peacekeepers to be trained in understanding the gravity of sexual violence and how to prevent and protect women from it. The government has also pledged to help support survivors and has committed £140m to this effort, which they hope will begin to make a seismic shift in attitudes.

**There was something called a ‘global relay’ **

British Embassies and High Commissions around the world took part in an 84-hour global relay of events to coincide with the Summit, check out the video below

An urgent need for change was uncovered

Suki Beavers showed a poignant United Nations Development Program video on men and boys and violence against women that showed how many men admitted to raping women as a way to assert their masculinity. Watch the truly shocking video below.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophiecullinane

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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