Investing in women, equals investing in peace. Female peacekeepers are more effective in winning the hearts and minds of the local population
Jakarta (ANTARA) - At the end of December, 2020, Indonesia completed its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which saw it assuming the Council's presidency twice.

Indonesia’s UN membership focused on the role of the Blue Helmets in helping maintain world peace.

Indonesia has been participating in UN peacekeeping missions since 1957 and remains committed to contributing to the organization's efforts to maintain peace in conflict-torn parts of the world.

"Indonesia's participation in the UN peacekeeping mission is the implementation of the mandate of the fourth paragraph of the preamble to the 1945 Constitution to create world order and is an integral part of its foreign policy and diplomacy," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi once said.

At present, the number of Indonesian personnel serving in various peacekeeping operations is 2,847, including 159 women (based on data as of 30 April, 2020). This number has put Indonesia 8th among 124 Troops/Police Contributing Countries (T/PCC).

The Garuda Contingent Personnel and Troops have been assigned to nine UN peacekeeping operations: UNIFIL (Lebanon), UNAMID (Darfur, Sudan), MINUSCA (Central African Republic), MONUSCO (Democratic Republic of Congo), MINUSMA (Mali), MINURSO (Western Sahara), UNMISS (South Sudan), UNISFA (Abyei, Sudan), and UNMHA (Yemen).

In 2019, Indonesia targeted to send up to four thousand personnel for various UN missions, but this year, the focus was no longer on quantity, but on the quality of personnel.

Besides, the number of peacekeeping forces globally has also been reduced due to funding difficulties at the UN, according to Grata Endah Werdaningtyas, director of the Foreign Ministry's International Security and Disarmament.

During its 2019-2020 term of the UNSC non-permanent membership, Indonesia assumed presidency in May, 2019 and August, 2020. The theme for the first stint was ‘Investing in Peace’ and the second ‘Advancing Sustainable Peace’.

Related news: Indonesia advocates global partnership for UN peacekeeping mission

Speaking at the ‘UNSC Open Debate on Investing in Peace: Improving Safety and Performance of UN Peacekeeping’ on May 7, 2019, Minister Marsudi had said that for decades, the Blue Helmets have been a distinct model of a global partnership, collective leadership, and shared responsibility for peace. However, with today's new political and security realities, the challenges facing the UN peacekeepers are enormous.

They are the guardians of peace, protecting millions around the globe, she said. Moreover, often overlooked, a peacekeeping mission is more efficient than unilateral actions, she added. The Blue Helmet is eight times less expensive than a unilateral mission, she continued.

"It is for this reason, Indonesia fully believes in peacekeepers — believes in adequately preparing them, and investing in their performance. As investing in our peacekeepers is investing in peace," Marsudi said.

During the debate, she also sought a bigger role for women in peacekeeping missions, saying Indonesia is committed to increasing the role of women peacekeepers. And beyond female peacekeepers, Indonesia is determined to continuously improve the role of women as agents of peace, the minister said.

"Investing in women, equals investing in peace. Female peacekeepers are more effective in winning the hearts and minds of the local population. (And in) Providing comfort to those traumatized by conflicts," she noted.

There is strong evidence that women's participation in peace processes increases the likelihood of sustained peace by 20 percent, and contributes to longer, more resilient peace, she added.

Indonesia organized a Regional Training on Women Peace and Security in Jakarta in April, 2019, for young women diplomats from the Southeast Asian region.

Related news: The importance of more women in peacekeeping

In fact, Indonesia established an Indonesian Peace and Security Center (IPSC), which was inaugurated by then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Sentul, Bogor district, West Java province, on December 19, 2011. The 240-hectare IPSC facility includes a center to train and prepare military personnel for participation in UN peacekeeping missions.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that training would save lives as UN peacekeepers are being placed in increasingly complex and often hostile environments.

"Training can prepare them for vital peace-keeping tasks and improve their performance. And as we know, improving performance can reduce the number of deaths,” Guterres pointed out.

Besides, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the task of UN peacekeeping forces more complex as they are also helping handle the pandemic. Several peacekeepers have even been infected with the virus while on duty.

Indonesia's UNSC Presidency was marked by the adoption of Resolution 2538 (2020) on female personnel in UN peacekeeping missions by consensus on August 28, 2020.

“Resolution 2538 (2020) is the first resolution in the history of Indonesian diplomacy in the UNSC. This is also Indonesia’s contribution to enhancing the role of women as agents of peace, especially in UN peacekeeping missions,” Retno Marsudi remarked.

This resolution is an important breakthrough since it is the first resolution adopted by the UNSC that specifically addresses the role of women as world peacekeepers. It is also uncommon to have the entire Security Council co-sponsor a resolution. The resolution was initiated by Indonesia and co-sponsored by 97 member states, including all UNSC members.

The extraordinary support from the UN member states has stemmed from Indonesia’s consistency in promoting peace diplomacy and advancing the role of women in the peace process since the beginning of its UNSC membership in 2019.

“Support for this initiative is inseparable from Indonesia’s diplomacy, credibility, and track record in various UN peacekeeping missions, including Indonesian female personnel,” Marsudi stated.

Related news: Indonesia recasts peacekeeping strategy, to focus on quality

The Indonesian female peacekeeping forces have been recognized for their role in getting closer to local communities in conflict areas, and especially in protecting women and children.

Currently, the number of female UN peacekeepers has reached 5,327, or 6.4 percent of the total force, which comprises 82,245 personnel. The UN has set a target of increasing the proportion of female military observers and staff deployed with peacekeeping missions to 15 percent and female police personnel to 20 percent by 2020.

Indonesia is one of the largest contributors of female peacekeeping personnel, with 158 personnel serving in seven UN missions, namely Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Darfur, Mali, and Western Sahara. Since 1999, Indonesia has sent more than 570 female personnel to various UN peacekeeping missions.

Under Indonesia’s Presidency, the UNSC meeting on August 28, 2020, also passed the UNSC resolution on the extension of the mandate of the peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the resolution on the UN mission in Somalia (UNSOM).

Related news: Marsudi confirms no Indonesian peacekeeping force contracted COVID-19

Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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