New York – Indonesia’s top diplomat has called for improving the well-being and capacity of United Nations peacekeepers and advocated for more women’s participation in peacekeeping operations (PKO) to be two priorities for future UN reforms.
During a high-level open debate session of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said that efforts to make peacekeeping more effective should give priority to the field missions and the people there, including new measures to ensure safety and security of peacekeepers on the ground.
She said missions and personnel should be well-trained, well-equipped and adequately resourced to carry out their duties.
“Together, we need to find a new way to provide cost-effective and innovative procurement of equipment to address capability gaps in peacekeeping missions,”Retno said in her speech at the UN headquarters in New York.
As such, the minister offered to make the Indonesian Peacekeeping Center in Sentul, West Java, a hub for UN peacekeeping training centers in the region.
Retno was the first speaker from the floor to take the podium after remarks were made by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the 15 members of the Security Council.
Guterres previously touted UN peacekeeping reforms based on the recommendations of the high-level independent panel on peace operations, which include more properly equipped operations.
Retno, who was conferred the UN Women’s Agent of Change Award for gender equality and women’s empowerment last year, also noted in her speech that only 83 of Indonesia’s entire roster of peacekeepers are women.
“I have witnessed first-hand how women peacekeepers are well positioned to help win the hearts and minds of the locals, effectively protect civilians and prevent and combat sexual exploitation and abuse,” she said.
The Minister’s recent visit to Lebanon to meet the Indonesian peacekeepers stationed near the border with Israel has highlighted the government’s appreciation of female peacekeepers, who, Retno said, raised Indonesia’s image.
Since its first-ever deployment in 1957 to the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) in the Middle East, Indonesia has dispatched more than 37,000 military and police personnel to various UN missions around the globe.
The country is currently one of the top 10 contributors to UN peacekeeping missions with more than 2,650 personnel in nine missions worldwide and Jakarta has pledged to deploy a total of 4,000 peacekeeping troops by 2019 as part of its Security Council campaign.
Earlier that day, the minister said the issue of peacekeeping had also underpinned Tuesday’s meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok, particularly as the Netherlands is president of the Security Council this month. It was under Amsterdam’s initiative that the open debate session was held with the Security Council as the audience.
Retno said she also told UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, that peacekeeping was important to Indonesia.
Minister Retno is currently in New York to rally support for Indonesia’s bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, just months ahead of the crucial vote in June.