UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Actress Angelina Jolie made her debut before the U.N.'s most powerful body as a special envoy for refugees Monday and urged the world's nations to make the fight against rape in war a top priority.
She told the Security Council that "hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of women, children and men have been raped in conflicts in our lifetimes."
Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. 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."
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 U.N. and donors to assist survivors.
It was the broadest resolution adopted by the council on the sexual violence in conflict. Hague said Britain plans 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 time has come for the world to take a strong and determined stand to make clear that the systematic use of rape as a weapon is not acceptable in the modern world and our objective is to change the entire global attitude to these issues," Hague said.
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