Norwegian general Kristin Lund is first woman UN peacekeeping commander

Campaign veteran named as first woman to command peacekeeping force

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2014, 9:12pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2014, 9:12pm


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appointed the first woman to command a United Nations peacekeeping force, a Norwegian general who has served in Lebanon, the first Gulf war, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

Major General Kristin Lund will replace China's Major General Chao Liu on August 13 as commander of 1,000 peacekeepers in Cyprus.

Cyprus has been divided into a Turkish Cypriot north and a Greek Cypriot south since 1974 and talks have resumed to reunite the Mediterranean island.

Lund said she had been to Cyprus several times and was looking forward to the challenges of her new job - maintaining the ceasefire and supporting efforts to deal with minefields, unaccounted people, and property disputes, among many issues.

She said she was proud to crack the glass ceiling in UN peacekeeping.

"I think it's time, and I think it's important that other women see that it's possible also in the UN system to get up in the military hierarchy to become a force commander," Lund said.

Lund, 55, joined the Norwegian army in 1979 and went on her first overseas mission in 1986 as transport officer with the UN mission in Lebanon.

That was where she learned that "maybe the most important weapon that you have is communication and to build relations".

It was also both fascinating and challenging to work with so many people from different countries and cultures, she said.

In 1991, she worked as a transport officer during the first Gulf war. In 1992-93 she served with the UN protection force in Bosnia, and after the war ended she returned as a battalion commander in the Nato-led force. After three years working with Nato in the Netherlands, Lund went to Afghanistan in 2003-04.

As a major general, Lund said, "you have to be a thinker and a doer, but I'm probably more a doer".

Lund said that before she retired she had wanted to go overseas again. So when asked if she wanted to become a UN peacekeeping force commander, "I said yes, I love the UN".

In 2004, Greek Cypriot voters rejected a UN blueprint to reunify Cyprus at a referendum despite overwhelming acceptance by their Turkish counterparts.

Talks under the UN were discontinued in 2012, only to resume again in February.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse