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Ignoring the Evidence at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

By Amelia Hoover Green, PhD
Assistant Professor of Political Science


June 23, 2014 —  

angelina jolie and foreign secretary william hague at the global summit to end sexual violence in conflict

Angelina Jolie and Foreign Secretary William Hague
at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict ended, for me, not with a bang but with a tiny symbol of my irrelevance. As I stood, furiously tweeting, after the summit’s closing plenary, I was literally pushed aside by a bodyguard to Angelina Jolie. (Special Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Jolie was a co-host of the summit, with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.)

The brush-off wasn’t troubling in itself. She is a movie star, and I am an assistant professor—that’s how it works. But it represented a more important inequity: The world’s largest-ever gathering on sexualized violence in conflict systematically disregarded social science researchers and social science research findings.

Ahead of the summit, Jolie and Hague wrote, “We refuse to accept that sexual violence [in conflict] is too vast and complex a problem to be tackled.” It’s true that the summit demonstrated a remarkable commitment of energy and attention by the more than 100 country delegations in attendance, as well as a remarkably hopeful outlook on a tough policy problem.

But Jolie and Hague’s statement also foreshadowed a deep problem with the summit. Refusing to accept that a problem is too complex to tackle is one thing; refusing to accept the reality of complexity is quite another.


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