Because of their ubiquity, the status of celebrity ambassadors is diminished. Their work is often laudable, selfless, and of little news value. We at i limit our coverage. Exceptions are occasionally made, though, where an individual’s involvement profoundly changes a debate.
Prior to the involvement of Angelina Jolie, there was limited public or media interest in an international summit to end sexual violence in war zones. As my colleague Sarah Sands writes in her interview with Ms Jolie, politicians alone cannot “shift the dial” on social change. Ms Jolie’s partnership with the Foreign Secretary William Hague – their two years of campaigning together – has been fundamental in drawing global attention to the horrors of rape in war, in challenging the perception that it is somehow an inevitable consequence of conflict, and in igniting a desire to pursue perpetrators. More than 140 countries are now meeting in London in a four-day summit to identify better ways to investigate and prosecute sexual violence. The gathering has added urgency, with kidnapped schoolgirls still missing in Nigeria and daily reports of fresh outrages perpetrated against women in Pakistan.
Some of the other women visiting London have, of course, faced greater hardships than Ms Jolie. But none, so far, has the global reach. In opening the summit, Mr Hague said yesterday: “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.” This is a start.