William Hague and Angelina Jolie attend sexual violence in war summit in London

Foreign secretary described sexual violence in conflict zones as "one of the great mass crimes of the 20th century and the 21st century"

Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie are today attending the opening of a four-day summit on sexual violence in war being held in London.

The event, which is the biggest of its kind ever held, will take place over four days, and includes film screenings, theatre and art as well as the attendance of high-level foreign delegates.

The foreign secretary, who has worked closely with Hollywood star Angelina Jolie for over two years, today described sexual violence in conflict zones as "one of the great mass crimes of the 20th century and the 21st century".

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning Mr Hague said the crime has affected most continents in the world and in particular countries such as Syria, Rwanda, Congo and Colombia.

Read more: Angelina Jolie has the power to change the world
On the front lines: Documenting evidence of rape is a fraught task
Half the victims of rape in conflict zones are children

"If anything, this is getting worse - war zone rape as a weapon of war, used systematically and deliberately against civilian populations," he said.

Mr Hague praised Jolie, who is a special envoy for the UN Commissioner for Refugees, saying she had made an "enormous transformative" difference to the campaign.

"What this campaign needs is big powerful governments of the world, like us, with a big diplomatic network and a big development budget to really get involved and take action, as we are," he said.

 

"But it also needs people who will be listened to in a different way from governments and speak with their own personal authority and Angelina Jolie brings that.

"She is very committed to this, very knowledgeable about the issues, she has come up with many of the ideas for the campaign.

"She and I have been working closely on this for the last two years and we will keep doing so."

Survivors: Women in North Kivu, a region where sexual abuse is high Survivors: Women in North Kivu, a region where sexual abuse is high

The event, which is taking place at the ExCel conference centre in London Docklands, is being attended by representatives from 140 nations.

Mr Hague has called on the nations involved to write action against sexual violence into their army training.

Organisers have expressed their wish that the conference will mark the moment the subject comes to wider public attention.

Mr Hague and Ms Jolie joined forces to launch the Prevention of Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) in 2012, with a UN Declaration of Commitment to Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The foreign secretary became committed to the agenda after seeing Jolie's film 'The land of Blood and Honey' about the horrors of sexual violence that militias and armies perpetrated during the Bosnian conflict of the 1990s.

In Bosnia, as many as 50,000 women were raped — many in special rape camps. Virtually none of them have received any form of justice.  In Rwanda the figure is thought to be upwards of 500,000.

Nations taking part in the summit also included the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia - countries where sexual violence had happened "on a vast scale", Mr Hague told the BBC.

The aim is now to take concrete steps to improve lives of victims and to establish best practice for obtaining witness testimony of crimes of sexual violence in conflict.

Hague and Jolie are today opening the Global Summit Fringe, which aims to increase awareness of sexual violence in conflict. They are also taking part in meetings with youth delegates.

Tomorrow they will attend an event to launch the international protocol to help strengthen prosecutions for rape in conflict.

On Thursday, delegations from more than 100 countries will attend and Mr Hague will chair a ministerial meeting on security in northern Nigeria.

On Friday, Mr Hague, Jolie, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon (by video message) and US Secretary of State John Kerry will speak in a closing plenary session.

From today until Thursday there will be some 140 free events open to the public.

Events and performances include the Royal Court Theatre presenting the world premiere of award-winning Liberian Girl.

There will be an exclusive screening of In The Land Of Blood And Honey, with the opportunity to hear its director Jolie and Mr Hague discuss the film and how it inspired the initiative that led to the summit.

As part of the £TimetoAct campaign, a short animation has been produced to portray the horror of rape and sexual violence through the eyes of a child.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Research Executive - Quantitative/Qualitative

£27000 - £31000 Per Annum Excellent Benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

ETL Developer / Consultant

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Geography Teacher, Immediate start, Dover School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is urgently s...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week