UPDATED 7:03 PM PT – Friday, December 16, 2022
The United Nations and Angelina Jolie published a joint statement that the actress was stepping down from her role as Special Envoy for the U.N. Refugee Agency on Friday morning.
The actress had collaborated with the U.N. for over 20 years with humanitarian duties and is one of the most famous faces that represented the organization.
“After 20 years of working within the U.N. system, I feel it is time for me to work differently, engaging directly with refugees and local organizations and supporting their advocacy for solutions,” Jolie said.
The 47-year-old had made 60 field visits since 2001 which included visits to different conflict zones around the world, including Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Myanmar. Her first title was Good-Will ambassador and by 2011, she had become a Special Envoy.
Jolie’s illustrious career in Hollywood included starring in and earning awards for movies such as “Girl, Interrupted” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” with her ex-husband Brad Pitt. This gave wider media attention to the organization and conflict sites she visited.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has called the humanitarian one of the most influential advocates of refugee rights. Jolie shares this recognition along with being considered as one of her era’s most celebrated actress.
In August, the U.N. addressed that because of the state of Ukraine, the organization was having issues bringing in attention and money for ongoing conflicts in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. This makes the loss of the actress even more difficult for the group because of the contribution of the attention she brings.
Jolie had made her frustrations with the United Nations known in previous comments to the media. She claims that there had been a lack of fruitful actions by aid agencies and world powers themselves. In addition, many critics in the press have also stated that the U.N. had veered from its core mission to prevent and resolve conflicts.
“Because of the way the U.N. was set up, it is tipped toward the interests and voice of powerful nations at the expense of those people suffering the most from conflict and persecution whose rights and lives are not treated equally,” Angelina Jolie wrote for Time magazine.
For some time now, Jolie has pressed the U.N. to build an investigative body that is permanent and independent that would review evidence of alleged war crimes and human rights violations. The actress felt that she needed to search for new and more productive ways of helping these nations, which include getting more “directly involved with local organizations.” Being independent of the U.N. would allow her to be more effective in issues that had held a deep meaning to her.
Back in May, to prepare for her departure from the U.N., the actress volunteered with local nongovernment organizations in Ukraine.
The global organization has estimated that a record breaking 100 million people are displaced globally, approximately half of which are children. The U.N. reported that throughout this year, one-in-every-six children lived in a conflict zone.
The agency did not give any additional details on any plans to appoint a new special envoy to replace Jolie. However a webpage of some other high profile supporters including actors such as Theo James, Anna Drijver and Alan Cumming is currently available.