London is arguably the most exciting city in the world. It’s certainly one of the busiest. There’s rarely an evening or weekend when there isn’t something on worth going to.
In May The Foreign Secretary and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, co-chaired the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict on 10-13 June 2014 at ExCel London
Some 1,700 delegates including 79 Ministers attended to discuss practical steps to tackle impunity for the use of rape as a weapon of war, and to begin to change global attitudes to these crimes.
However, this was no ‘them and us’ summit. There were also hundreds of public events and it was particularly good to see local school children attending and taking in the many talks, films and workshops.
Perhaps some people attended primarily to see the new Dame of Hollywood (William Hague not being perhaps such a draw for the tabloids) and on the last two days Brad Pitt too. The good news, however, is that they stayed long after snapping her on their telephones and Ipads.
Their summit experience, like mine would likely have been intense, harrowing and very moving but it was also a very lively event that sparked worldwide interest in a subject that could have been kept behind diplomatic doors.
But what of Angelina, I hear you cry!
Well, the Dame walked among us each day. Yes, close enough for us to touch the hem of her gown and be cured of all ills. The blind began to see, cripples could suddenly walk, Stella McCartney cracked a smile…….t’was truly a time of miracles.
I’ve never seen the pope but I imagine I glimpsed a little of what he goes through when he walks through a crowd. People no longer just take photographs of our sainted Dame (that’s for mere movie stars), they now simply inhale the air they briefly share with her and swoon. No one quite genuflected physically but I think we all did a little mentally.
And yes, she is quite staggeringly beautiful up close. And, damned nice with it too. Also, she knows her subject inside out. This is no photo call celebrity endorsement of a cause. I heard her speak several times and she more than held her own with John Kerry and William Hague.
Lawyers were well represented at the summit too. Cherie Booth QC played judge at a mock trial and we the audience got to be the jury.