In the ongoing effort to improve the overall performance of United Nations peacekeeping missions, the heads of the armed forces of around 100 countries met at UN Headquarters in New York today to discuss issues such as rapid deployment, training, increasing the number of female peacekeepers, and conduct and discipline.
“Our partnership has never been more important. Across the globe, armed conflict scars countless civilians and destabilizes entire regions,” Secretary-General António Guterres told participants at the Chiefs of Defence Conference, via a video message.
Expressing gratitude to the men and women serving in peacekeeping, Mr. Guterres noted that UN “blue helmets” brave danger so others can enjoy safety.
He also welcomed the Conference’s focus on gender, with a view to increasing the number of female peacekeepers, and integrating a gender perspective into UN peace and security actions.
“When we have greater gender balance in our forces, we boost our protection outreach – and we reduce the chances of sexual exploitation and abuse,” he highlighted, urging all troop-contributing countries to deploy more women as well as to help integrate a gender-sensitive perspective in strengthening peace. With greater gender balance in our forces, we boost our protection outreach – and we reduce the chances of sexual exploitation and abuse, said Secretary-General Guterres
In the same vein, Jane Holl Lute, the Special Coordinator on improving UN response to sexual exploitation and abuse, also underscored the need to stand together against the individual misconduct of some troops, which she said “seriously injures the vulnerable and undermines the mission and name of the United Nations.”
“Only through the continued personal leadership of the chiefs of defence forces, and others, will we effectively prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse,” she said, adding: “We are in this endeavour together, and together, we can root out this scourge.”