US Secretary of State John Kerry has said it was time to banish sexual violence “to the dark ages” as an international conference on rape in conflict zones wrapped up in London.
The four-day gathering of 123 countries that concluded on Friday and was co-hosted by Hollywood star Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, has produced a series of proposals to end rape in conflict and to better document attacks to try to increase the number of successful prosecutions.
“It’s time to ban sexual violence to the dark ages and history books where it belongs,” Kerry said at the closing press conference alongside Jolie and Hague.
“Make no mistake: we can end this, establish new norms, hold those who commit those acts accountable and no longer tolerate these horrific tactics.”
We have all come together based on a common desire to end warzone sexual violence, and we have mapped out every area of action we need to take.
Jolie said she was encouraged by the conference, especially by the fact that “so many male leaders from across the world were prepared to confront the taboos surrounding sexual violence in conflict”.
The issue was now “on the top table of international diplomacy”, she said.
In her closing speech, the actress said: “For me, and I suspect for many of you, this summit has been an emotional experience.
“We have all come together based on a common desire to end warzone sexual violence, and we have mapped out every area of action we need to take.”
Hague said the summit had given him “renewed optimism”.
Having previously praised Jolie’s role, and saying her star power married to government action was a powerful new way of making policy, the British minister said the meeting had been unprecedented.
“Never in my time as foreign secretary so far, on any foreign policy issue, have I seen such an extraordinary and inspiring gathering as we have had over the last few days,” he said.