By Chris Toward
As mentioned in a previous blog, the vital contribution of women to UN peacekeeping missions has been formally recognised over the last couple of weeks through the devotion of World Peacekeeping Day to the female civilian and military personnel.
On the topic of recognition, it is perhaps now a better time than ever to highlight some of the contributions of peacekeeping missions which have had to adapt quickly to significant challenges over the past few months. In particular, during this global pandemic, many peacekeeping missions have been instrumental in providing essential PPE and medical support, such as in Lebanon, where French and Ghanian peacekeepers have provided life-saving support to the local population. Furthermore, UN officials in Cyprus as part of UNFICYP have also been providing mental health support and highlighting the concern for women during the crisis. Linked is a comprehensive list of some additional examples of support given by other missions.
As increased female participation in peacekeeping helps fractured states and regions build a more sustainable peace, so do peacekeeping forces going beyond their traditional mandate of preventing an escalation of conflict in order to strengthen the social, economic, and political health and institutions of a country and region. ‘Security’ must go beyond simply preventing conflict, which is why the expanded role of peacekeeping forces and other organisations has the potential to be a positive step in building sustainable peace for divided and conflict-ridden areas. The UK and Scotland are also in need of a rearticulation of what security means - Rethinking Security is a good place to find out more about how we can apply these ideas to a more local context.