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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
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

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn