Jolie brings star power to BC

Academy Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie is expected to lend her star power to next week's peacekeeping summit in Vancouver.

A draft program for the two-day meeting leaked to The Canadian Press says Jolie will deliver a keynote address at the event, appearing as a special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative.

The topic of Jolie's Nov. 15 address is not listed, but the Liberal government has pushed for the summit to include discussions about increasing gender equality in peacekeeping and ending sexual abuse by warring factions — and peacekeepers themselves.

After long ignoring the issue of sexual violence in war, the international community has in recent years stepped up its efforts to end rape and other sexual crimes in conflict zones and to hold perpetrators to account.

Jolie has been helping on that front; in June, for example, she sat down at a training centre in Kenya with peacekeepers, police and civil society groups to talk about how to prevent and respond to sexual violence.

"This is not simply about law and human decency. It is about military effectiveness," she said at the time.

"If civilians do not have confidence in you as peacekeepers, your mission will not succeed. And while this training is clearly only a beginning, it is the only way that we will begin to address the problems: working nation by nation to raise standards and increase effectiveness."

Yet the UN has also struggled with revelations that peacekeepers themselves have either sexually abused or exploited the very people they were to protect in a number of countries.

Jolie's speech is listed as one of two keynote addresses at the Vancouver peacekeeping summit, which kicks off Nov. 14 and is expected to play host to representatives from 80 countries, including approximately 50 defence ministers.

The other will be delivered by U.S. deputy secretary of defence Patrick Shanahan. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also scheduled to attend, alongside Freeland and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

Retired general Romeo Dallaire is also expected to be at the summit, where Canada and other countries will roll out an initiative aimed at preventing the use of child soldiers in war.


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