UN organised a high level round table meeting regarding the theme "Being a Peacekeeper”, on 20-21 of October, in Belgrade.UN Under Secretary General and Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) Mr Hervé Ladsous, highlighted in his opening remarks the need to understand the complexity of today’s peacekeeping operations that take place globally. And that it is absolutely necessary to have a strategic political commitment, for the troops deployed as peacekeepers to be able to conduct their tasks. Protection through presence is no longer enough. And that today’s Troop Contribution Countries (TCC) must be prepared to take direct actions in order to be able to respond rapidly to crises. Soldiers must be trained in another way then traditionally and understand some of the strategic situation where they are deployed, and to realise that they are an important actor among others working for peace and protection of the civilian population in the area of operations. According to Mr Hervé Ladsous, our resources are scarce and we have to be innovative to find both new technology and methods to improve the UN Missions effectiveness.
Mr Ladsous thanked the Government of Serbia who hosted this important conference and expressed his and UN DPKO´s gratitude to Serbia and the neighbouring nations from South East Europe, who have increased their participation in UN led peacekeeping operations.
- “The Western Balkans has come a long way. From armed conflicts in the 90s to the stability of today. From importing to exporting security. We hope that this roundtable will help enable you to make even greater contributions, individually and jointly, to UN peacekeeping.”
UN needs more than ever contribution of well trained, prepared and devoted personnel to its peacekeeping missions.
Deputy Military Advisor at DPKO, Major General Adrian Foster, stressed in his speech three main focus areas for todays and future peacekeeping operations: Violability, Complexity and Responsibility. A UN mission is no longer a soft military task. Peacekeepers are often ambushed and attacked and seen upon as a part in the conflict. UN troops need to be equipped and trained to be able to operate 24 hours a day in all conditions and environments, prepared to defend themselves as well as to protect the civilian population.
The TCC´s political leadership should avoid caveats to allow the troops to act more proactively. This would show willingness and determination instead of waiting for the opponents and aggressors to set the scene. General Foster said he wanted to see more female peacekeepers and to create a flexible response package with early warning system including broader skills backed up by doctrines, directives and mandates. This will only be possible if the member states can show political will and commitment. During the afternoon, sessions included the topic of how to strengthen women in participation and how to protect the civilians in the areas of operation. In this session, Major General Kristin Lund who is the UN Force Commander in Cyprus, UNFICYP, spoke about her own experiences. With a focus on the internal situation in UNFICYP where very few women are deployed from the TCC. The panel discussed how we should view women as a resource and not as victims if we are going to reach out to 100% of the population, and be able to fulfil UN peacekeeping mission’s operational objectives.
Lieutenant Colonel Biljana Lazarevic from the Serbian MoI, who has been deployed as Head of UN Police missions in several areas, said that it is vital to look more for quality than quantity. To show quality creates respect and acts at the same time as role models to others, which will lead to higher quantity if we create possibilities to achieve this. As a positive example she said that more than 4.500 women applied for the last police training course in Serbia, the young generation is increasingly considering it a positive alternative to be a police officer.
Commander Jan Dunmurray, Head of the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military operations (NCGM), participated in the panel discussion and highlighted in his speech that the regional training centres are vital tools to implement a gender perspective, implementation throughout our military and police ranks. And that it all starts with education and training at all levels to really make a change in mind sets and to conduct peacekeeping operations.
Finally, Commander Dunmurray addressed the present political leadership from the region, to use their National Action Plan regarding UNSCR 1325 and gender as a way to show their commitment to their own populations.
- “The civil society will keep you responsible to act accordingly to the action plans that you have signed”, said Commander Dunmurray.