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Angelina Jolie's 'Economist' Article

Angelina Jolie's 'Economist' Article

The Economist has published Angelina Jolie‘s article for their annual spin-off issue, The World in 2008. CLICK HERE to read the full article.

In other news, Angelina Jolie‘s adoption of daughter Zahara in July 2005 was completely legal, the agency involved said on Thursday.

Tabloids reported earlier this week that relatives of two-year-old Zahara, including a woman who says she is her birth mother, want the child returned to Ethiopia.

“The court in Addis Ababa approved the adoption after studying the document her grandmother wrote … saying her daughter, the mother of Zahara, had died and she was too poor to bring her up,” Tsegaye Berhe, the head of Wide Horizons for Children adoption agency told Reuters.

“The grandmother brought three witnesses to court who testified that Zahara‘s mother had died and that her father was unknown … The court also investigated the social status of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt before approving the adoption. [The adoption was] legal and irrevocable. The controversy is media hype by unethical journalists exploiting the poverty of the grandmother.”

In other words, reporters paid the relatives to raise the dispute.


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A year for accountability

Angelina Jolie, goodwill ambassador to the UNHCR, hopes for progress in bringing war criminals to justice

On a recent mission for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, I had the opportunity to visit a refugee camp in Chad just across the border with Sudan. Sitting with a group of refugees, I asked them what they needed. These were people who had seen family members killed, neighbours raped, their villages burned and looted, their entire communities driven from their land. So it was no surprise when people began listing the things that could improve their lives just a little bit. Better tents, said one; better access to medical facilities, said another. But then a teenage boy raised his hand and said, with powerful simplicity, “Nous voulons un procès.” We want a trial.

A trial might seem a distant and abstract notion to a young man for whom the inside of a courtroom is worlds away from the inside of a refugee camp. But his statement showed a recognition of something elemental: that accountability is perhaps the only force powerful enough to break the cycle of violence and retribution that marks so many conflicts.

I believe 2008 can be the year in which we begin seeking true accountability and demanding justice for the victims in Darfur and elsewhere. Through accountability we can begin the process of righting past wrongs, and even change the behaviour of some of the world’s worst criminals.

The international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda have shown the way in convicting heads of state and generals for genocide and crimes against humanity. The UN-backed special court for Sierra Leone has already sentenced three former leaders of a pro-government militia to jail for war crimes committed during the country’s civil war in the 1990s.

In Cambodia, the joint UN-Cambodian court to try top former Khmer Rouge leaders with war crimes and crimes against humanity has begun calling witnesses. It has taken a long time to get even this far, but a trial is likely in 2008. In The Hague, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has begun trials of two of the Congolese leaders charged with fomenting killings and rapes amid the violence that has raged there for over a decade.

Make no mistake, the existence of these trials alone changes behaviour. Seeing the indictment of Thomas Lubanga and the detention of Germain Katanga by the ICC brought to mind a trip I had taken to Congo five years ago. In the Ituri region, where Mr Katanga’s reign of terror had been most intense, our group attended a meeting of rebel leaders. They had gathered in a field to discuss the prospects for a peace agreement—which were not looking very good. The conversation turned hostile and the situation grew extremely tense. At that point, one of my colleagues asked for the name of one of the rebels, announcing, perhaps a bit recklessly, that he was going to pass it along to the ICC.

It was remarkable: this rebel leader’s whole posture changed from aggression to conciliation. The ICC had been around for only five months. It had tried no one. Yet its very existence was enough to intimidate a man who had been terrorising the population for years.

Ending the cycle of violence

This is not an isolated example. Accountability has the potential to change behaviour, to check aggression by those who are used to acting with impunity. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor of the ICC, has said that even genocide is not a crime of passion; it is a calculated decision. He is right. Common sense tells us that when risks are weighed, decisions are made differently. When crimes against humanity are punished consistently and severely, the killers’ calculus will change.

My hope is that these examples of justice in the name of accountability will be just a few of the many to come. I hope that the Sudanese government will hand over the government minister and the janjaweed militia leader who have been indicted for war crimes by the ICC, and that the teenager I met in Chad will get to see the trial he seeks. I hope that those responsible for the atrocities in Darfur will be held to account, not only for that young man’s sake, but for the world’s.

Only through justice will we achieve peace. And only when there is peace will the world’s nearly 39m displaced persons and refugees be able to return home.

The strong preying upon the weak and the weak, upon achieving strength, extracting retribution: this is the nature of so many of the world’s conflicts. The role of aggressor and victim may alternate over time, the tools of destruction may become more sophisticated, but little else changes.

Despite the horror I have seen in my travels, the hopeful lesson I take is that we can begin to put an end to the cycle of violence and retribution that gives rise to war criminals and sets forth floods of refugees. Let 2008 be the year in which we see the principle of accountability put into action.

Angelina Jolie: The World in 2008 [The Economist]

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