The American actor and the organization said in a joint statement on Friday that she was “moving on” from her position as the organization’s special envoy “to engage on a broader set of humanitarian and human rights problems.”
In the statement, Jolie was cited as stating, “I will continue to do all in my power in the years to come to support refugees and other displaced people.” She also said she believed it was time to “work differently” by directly interacting with refugees and neighborhood organizations.
Jolie first started working with the U.N. refugee agency in 2001 and was appointed its special envoy in 2012. The release described the multi-hyphenate as “carrying out more than 60 field missions to bear witness to stories of suffering as well as hope and resilience.”
“After a long and successful time with UNHCR, I appreciate her desire to shift her engagement and support her decision,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi was quoted as saying. “I know the refugee cause will remain close to her heart, and I am certain she will bring the same passion and attention to a wider humanitarian portfolio.”
In an opinion piece published in The Guardian last month, Jolie alluded to frustration with the lack of global progress in ending sexual violence in conflict.
“We meet and discuss these horrors and agree that they should never be allowed to happen again. We promise to draw and to hold that line. But when it comes to hard choices about how to implement these promises, we run into the same problems time and again,” she wrote, specifically calling out U.N. Security Council members for “abusing their veto power.”
Jolie previously characterized the United Nations as “imperfect” during a 2017 speech in Geneva, but also defended the international body and said it needed to be supported.
She later pressed the United Nations to create a permanent and independent investigative body to amass and evaluate evidence in cases regarding alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and other human rights violations. While promoting that effort at U.N. headquarters in 2019, she told the reporters that promoting equality for women, combatting injustice, and helping refugees were the most important parts of her life after her children.
“But in many ways, they go hand in hand,” she said. Jolie has been involved in other advocacy efforts, recently pushing for the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act in the U.S.
Jolie began visiting refugee camps in 2001, and was appointed as a UNHCR goodwill ambassador that same year. At the time, the then-high commissioner said he hoped the then-26-year-old actress could direct young people’s attention to the plight of refugees.
Last year, Jolie told The Associated Press in Burkina Faso that she was concerned that increasing displacement across the world would drive more instability and that governments had to do something to address the conflicts at the root of the issue.
“Compared to when I began working with UNHCR 20 years ago, it seems like governments have largely given up on diplomacy countries which have the least are doing the most to support the refugees,” she told news reporters.
Developing countries play host to more than 80% of the world’s refugees, according to UNHCR, which also announced in May that the number of displaced people crossed 100 million for the first time. Grandi encouraged world leaders to keep in mind the other humanitarian crises for which his organization was gathering money while applauding the European Union’s efforts to assist Ukrainian migrants in an August interview with a news channel.
The main issue right now, according to Grandi, is that the Russian war in Ukraine tends to overshadow all other human suffering situations.
On its website, UNHCR includes many sorts of “prominent supporters,” including goodwill ambassadors like Pakistani actor Mahira Khan, British novelist Neil Gaiman, and Australian star Cate Blanchett.
A representative for the U.N. organization declined to provide any information in response to a request for comment, other than to state that UNHCR “has no intention of appointing anyone else in the capacity of special envoy.”