UN Security Council calls for more women peacekeepers

By: AFP      Published: 02:24 PM, 29 Aug, 2020
UN Security Council calls for more women peacekeepers
File photo.

The Security Council on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution calling on UN members to boost the numbers of women peacekeepers, diplomats said, seeing the move as a way to improve the effectiveness and credibility of the missions.

The proposal put forward by Indonesia, a non-permanent member of the council, called on "Member States, the United Nations Secretariat and regional organizations to strengthen their collective efforts to promote the full, effective, and meaningful participation of uniformed and civilian women in peacekeeping operations."

The text specified that this effort must lead to the involvement of women "at all levels and in all positions, including in senior leadership positions."

UN member states are invited to develop "strategies and measures to increase the deployment of uniformed women to peacekeeping operations" through information campaigns, training and identifying obstacles to the recruitment and promotion of women peacekeepers.

The text highlighted the "indispensable role of women in increasing the overall performance and effectiveness of peacekeeping operations."

"The presence of women and better balance between men and women among peacekeepers contribute to, among others, greater credibility of the missions among the population," the resolution said.

Among the 13 peacekeeper missions currently carried out by the UN around the world, women make up about six percent of the 95,000 uniformed troops.

UN extends Lebanon peace mission

The UN on Friday renewed its peace mission in Lebanon for a year but reduced its troop capacity and requested that Beirut grant access to tunnels under the border with Israel.

The France-drafted resolution to renew the UNIFIL peacekeeping force was adopted unanimously by the Security Council's 15 members, according to diplomats.

The council will reduce the troop limit from 15,000 to 13,000, the resolution said, recognizing that the mission has "successfully implemented its mandate since 2006 and has allowed for maintaining peace and security." 

In practice, the decision does not change much because UNIFIL's current strength is around 10,500 peacekeepers, a diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity. During negotiations, Washington had asked for a limit of 11,000 peacekeepers.

The resolution urges Lebanon to give UNIFIL investigators access to areas north of the Blue Line -- the UN-demarcated border between Israel and Lebanon -- where tunnels allowing armed incursions into Israeli were discovered in 2019.

Backing Israel, which has accused UNIFIL of bias and ineffectiveness, the US has called since early summer for a troop reduction and access to tunnels attributed to the pro-Iranian Shiite movement Hezbollah, which is very influential in southern Lebanon.

The UN has not gained access to the tunnels from the Lebanese side, Washington noted recently.

In the midst of an economic and political crisis, the Lebanese authorities -- aligning themselves with Hezbollah's position -- demanded that the UN mission be extended without any change.

The resolution calls on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres coordinate with Lebanon and troop-contributing countries within 60 days on a plan for implementing recommendations he made to improve UNIFIL's performance.

In June, Guterres said the peacekeeping force needed to be "more agile and mobile," and called for an improved surveillance capacity of the force, including thermal-imaging cameras, hi-tech binoculars and drones.

Set up in 1978, UNIFIL was beefed up after the 2006 war.

The force, in coordination with the Lebanese army, is tasked guaranteeing a ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal from a demilitarized zone on the border.

Israel said Wednesday it had launched airstrikes against Hezbollah observation posts in Lebanon after shots were fired from across the border towards its troops the previous evening.