A four-day international summit on ending sexual violence in war zones and conflict areas has been launched in London.

The summit, to be attended by more than 100 countries, aims to identify ways to better investigate and prosecute cases of sexual violence and provide support for women and girls.

It is a myth that rape is an inevitable part of conflict. It is a weapon of war aimed at civilians

Angelina Jolie, actress and UN envoy

Opening the summit in London's docklands on Tuesday, actress and UN envoy Angelina Jolie said political will was needed globally to treat sexual violence as a priority and tackle a culture of impunity.

"It is a myth that rape is an inevitable part of conflict. It is a weapon of war aimed at civilians," she said.

"We need to see real commitment and go after the worst perpetrators, to fund proper protection for vulnerable people, and to step in to help the worst-affected countries."

Jolie was speaking alongside British foreign secretary William Hague, who is co-hosting the summit with her. 

Hague and Jolie are scheduled to launch an international protocol on Wednesday to help strengthen prosecutions for rape in conflicts.

Jolie, who has travelled extensively as a UN envoy dealing with refugee crises, said she had met with survivors in Afghanistan, Somalia and other conflict zones who had no place to turn for help.

"They live in refugee camps, on bombed-out streets, in areas where there is no law, no protection, and not even the hope of justice," she said.

On Thursday, Hague will host a meeting focusing on the NIgerian armed group Boko Haram, which will be attended by foreign ministers from Nigeria and neighbouring African countries.

Source: Agencies