Taking a break from promoting her upcoming movie Changeling, Angelina Jolie hosted a symposium on international law and justice Friday at the Council on Foreign Relations headquarters in New York. “Over the past seven years, I’ve worked with UNHCR and I’ve traveled around the world trying to bring attention to refugees,” she said. “It’s been a remarkable education.”
Jolie, who has visited dozens of war-torn countries around the world, spoke passionately on behalf of the victims she’s met. “I’ve seen refugees return to live among the same people who attacked them,” she said. “They are returning to the same lawlessness that sent them running in the first place. I’ve seen aid workers tear up as they put ladies on a bus and say, ‘I don’t know what we’re sending them back to.'”
Jolie’s remarks personalized the symposium, which featured a discussion by foreign policy experts (including advisers to Senators Barack Obama and John McCain) on the pursuit of justice – using courts, diplomacy, and military action – and its role in international peace. Of particular importance: how to proceed in Darfur and U.S. participation in the International Criminal Court.
“I don’t know if the ICC is the answer. And I don’t know what type of court is, or what it would need to be to make all of us agree and make it strong enough,” Jolie admitted. “But I do know this: No mother who had her children killed in front of her, no young girl sold into slavery, no boy kidnapped and forced to be a child soldier and no young girl like the 3-year-old I met in Sierra Leone, who had her limbs cut off, should be expected to simply forget. No one should have to choose between peace and justice.”
In addition to the symposium, sponsored by the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, Jolie joined Microsoft Corp and 25 leading law firms to launch KIND, an initiative to provide legal counsel to immigrant childred who enter the U.S. without an adult. Over 8000 children, many of whom do not speak English and are victims of persecution, torture or trafficking, flee to the U.S. each year and are forced to wind their way through the legal system without an attorney. KIND hopes to fill that need completely by the year 2010.