Angelina Jolie has made a surprise appearance at a major UN summit in London to deliver an impassioned speech about the inclusion of women in peacekeeping. The 41-year-old actress, dressed demurely in a knee length black dress, was greeted by UK Vice Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Gordon Messenger as she arrived at Lancaster House in London on Thursday.
She then addressed a gathering of delegates from 80 countries calling for more female peacekeepers amid growing allegations of sexual abuse by international troops sent to help those in areas of conflict.
Angelina Jolie arrives at Lancaster House fo the UN peacekeeping summit
"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 summit.
Calling for the prosecution of those who commit abuses, Angelina said a new approach to peacekeeping was needed, that has the "rights and protection and involvement of women at its heart", the Guardian reports. She also stressed that adding more women, who currently account for less than five per cent of UN peacekeepers, is essential to reshaping the UN's efforts.
The star called for more women in the peacekeeping process
"Peacekeeping forces 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 said.
Sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers was one of the key themes at the summit following allegations of assault in countries including Haiti and Central African Republic. Angelina said she was moved by the desire to seek justice for refugee women she had met who had themselves been abused.
Angelina has been involved with the UN since 2001, and is now a UN Special Envoy
The Oscar-winner has been involved with the UN since 2001, and in April 2012 was promoted from Goodwill Ambassador to UN Special Envoy. In her expanded role, Angelina focuses on major crises that result in mass population displacements, and engages with decision-makers on global displacement issues to help find solutions for people forced to flee their homes.