Top Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who also is UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Special Envoy, visited NATO Headquarters in Brussels today, January 31.
Welcoming Ms. Jolie, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised her “strong voice” and “great leadership for empowering women and the fight against sexual violence”.
Noting that NATO is based on democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law and the UN Charter, Mr. Stoltenberg pointed to the Alliance’s long record of fighting extremist groups which oppress women, like the Taliban and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). “NATO has the responsibility to be a leading protector of women’s rights,” he said.
In a joint meeting of the North Atlantic Council and the Military Committee, Ms. Jolie and Allied representatives focused on NATO’s efforts to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, and discussed what more the Alliance will do.
Following the meeting, Secretary General Stoltenberg announced that “Special Envoy Jolie and I have decided to work together, focusing on three points: training, monitoring and reporting, and awareness”.
NATO has extensive pre-deployment training for soldiers and civilians in the field, and deploys gender advisers to operations. NATO will work to strengthen existing training on combatting sexual violence.
Monitoring and reporting is a core task for NATO commanders, and the Alliance will work to be faster and more systematic in ways so that perpetrators can be brought to justice.
Increased awareness will help put gender violence higher on the agenda and contribute to changing behaviour. Mr. Stoltenberg stressed: “We must shine a bright light on these darkest of crimes”.
At NATO, Special Envoy Jolie is also meeting with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, as well as the Alliance’s new Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, Clare Hutchinson.
Ms. Jolie will also meet with the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, and receive briefings from NATO’s gender advisers in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
In December, Secretary General Stoltenberg and Special Envoy Jolie published a joint op-ed entitled “Why NATO must defend women’s rights”.