UN Security Council calls for doubling number of women peacekeepers

United Nations, Oct 14 (IANS) The Security Council has called for doubling the number of women in peacekeeping operations as part of its efforts to empower women in preventing and resolving conflicts.

In a resolution adopted Tuesday, the Security Council asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to come up with a strategy to double the number of women in peace-keeping operations as an important step to achieve its agenda of enhancing the role of women in conflict resolution and prevention, peacekeeping, peace-building.

Currently there are only 4,372 women peacekeeping personnel – a paltry number out of a total of 106,506.

The role of women in peacekeeping has emerged as a major issue at the UN both as an agenda of empowerment as well as for prevention of abuse of women and children who form the majority of civilians peacekeepers are mandated to protect.

At the summit on peacekeeping convened by President Barack Obama last month at the UN, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India would provide three additional police battalions with a higher proportion of women personnel.

Participating in the debate after the adoption of the resolution, India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji recalled India’s “pioneering role in Liberia, where India became the first UN member state to send an all-female peacekeeping unit.a¿

This illustrates a way to achieve “full and meaningful participation and leadership of women in the decision making processes of conflict prevention, conflict-resolution and post-conflict reconstruction,a¿ which India strongly advocates, he added.

The Security Council resolution also urged the Secretary-General and UN bodies to better integrate gender perspectives and to set targets for hiring and empowering women.

Specifically in the area of peacekeeping, the Security Council asked the peacekeeping and political affairs departments to ensure that women expertise was included in planning and executing peacekeeping missions.

Mukerji said that the agenda of empowering women in conflict resolution, peacekeeping and peace-building would continue to fail unless its members were “able to reflect this perspective into their deliberations while drawing up mandates for peace operations.a¿

“Developing countries must have a greater presence in the permanent membership of this Council,a¿ he said. “Due to this major shortcoming, the elaborate normative framework and the Secretary General’s 7-Point Action Plan on gender-responsive peacebuilding, has not been achieved.a¿

“This is why the existing structure of the Security Council needs early reforms,a¿ he added.

The Security Council should also hold consultations with troop-contributing countries as mandated by the UN Charter, he said.

Continuing India’s critique of the functioning of the Security Council, Mukerji highlighted its failures in dealing with terrorists. “The Council should take the lead in investigating and prosecuting such non-state actors, and not be atrophied by the opaque procedures in its sanctions regimes, which have distorted by hidden vetoes, called technical holds or blocks, permanent members without accountability,a¿ he said.

Earlier this year, China prevented Security Council action on Paksitan’s releasing Lashkar-e-Taiba, commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who was the mastermind of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack that killed more than 160 people.

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