Screen star Angelina Jolie on Monday criticized UN Security Council powers for their lack of action over wartime rapes, invoking Syria and other conflicts in a surprise speech to the body.

Ambassadors from Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain -- bitterly divided over the Syria war -- listened as Jolie said they should "show the determination" to defend the hundreds of thousands of victims of sexual attacks in conflict.

"The world has yet to take up war zone rape as a serious priority," the actress said at a meeting organized by Britain as president of the council for June.

Jolie, getting into top gear lobbying again after undergoing a double mastectomy operation, appeared before the council after visiting refugee camps for Syrians in Jordan last week. Her presence was only announced just before the meeting.

She told she met a woman in Jordan who had been raped in Syria but was afraid to give her name because she feared she would be killed for speaking out.

Jolie also told how on another trip she had met the mother of a five year-old girl raped outside a police station in Goma in strife-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Both were "victims of a culture of impunity" because there have been only a "handful" of prosecutions. "That is the sad, upsetting and indeed shameful reality."

"I understand that there are many difficult things for the Security Council to agree on, but sexual violence in conflict should not be one of them," Jolie said.

"The UN Security Council must step in and provide leadership and assistance," she said.

"These crimes happen not because they are inherent to war but because the global community allows it."

The council adopted a resolution which condemned the use of sexual violence in conflict. Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said he would be organizing a new meeting on the topic at the UN General Assembly in September.