Angelina Jolie used a surprise appearance at a major United Nations peacekeeping summit to warn delegates from 80 countries that the organisation’s reputation had been damaged and undermined by cases of sexual abuse committed by peacekeepers.

The Hollywood A-lister, a special envoy for the UN for many years and an activist on human rights issues all her life, said that she had met with female refugees who had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of international troops, and demanded justice and accountability on their behalf.

Angelina JolieAngelina Jolie called for women to play a much greater role in UN peacekeeping

“We all know that the credibility of UN peacekeeping has been sadly undermined by the actions of a few intolerable cases of women and children being sexually exploited by the very people in charge of protecting them,” she told the afternoon session of the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in London on Thursday (September 8th).

Sexual abuse and exploitation were some of the key themes of the summit, after allegations of such cases recently in Haiti and the Central African Republic.

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Jolie then called for a new system of prosecution for such rogue peacekeepers who exploit those supposed to be in their protection, saying that “rights and protection and involvement of women at its heart”.

She also called for more women to participate in missions. “Peacekeeping forces can only gain and keep the trust of local populations if they are able to engage with women as well as men in that community,” she concluded.

Jolie’s speech came on the same day as British defence secretary Michael Fallon pledged to deploy 400 British troops in South Sudan to contribute to a peacekeeping mission there.

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