Australia’s Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds on Friday (29 May) paid tribute to Australians who have played key roles in the United Nations Peacekeepers. Friday marked the International Day of United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers and this year’s theme was “Women in Peacekeeping – A Key to Peace”, that also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, which recognised the impact of conflict on women and children, and encouraged women’s participation across all aspects of the peace process.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds.

Reynolds said Australia has made a significant contribution to worldwide peace operations in war and conflicts for more than 70 years. “Since 1947, more than 50,000 Australian personnel have participated in peace operations under a UN flag or mandate,” Reynolds said. “We recognise the Australian Defence Force personnel currently serving in UN peacekeeping missions in Cyprus, South Sudan and the Middle East, and honour the 16 Australians who tragically lost their lives on both UN and non-UN peacekeeping operations.

“As a strong advocate for the Women, Peace and Security agenda, Defence remains committed to supporting women’s empowerment in addressing conflict and building sustainable peace solutions,” she added.

Australia’s Ministry of Defence has committed US$1 million to the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations, which aims to identify and overcome barriers to women’s meaningful participation in conflict resolution.

The ministry also continues to meet the UN’s Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy targets for women peacekeepers, and is working with the UN and Indo-Pacific partner nations to strengthen Australia’s response to threats to international peace and security. This includes through training, capacity building, information sharing, and supporting the deployment of peacekeepers through strategic airlifts.

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