For the first time, a woman will command a UN peacekeeping force, after Norway’s Major General Kristin Lund was appointed to lead troops in Cyprus.
Maj Gen Lund, 55, has a distinguished military career going back 34 years, including postings in Lebanon and Afghanistan. Lund will replace China’s Major General Chao Liu on 13th August. When in her new post, she will command 996 soldiers and police officers as well as 149 civilian staff.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the north in response to a military coup on the island, which was backed by the government of Greece. Since this time, the northern third has been primarily inhabited by Turkish Cypriots and the southern two-third Greek Cypriots.
Maj Gen Lund was congratulated on her new position by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the UN headquarters in New York.
In an interview with the Associated Press news agency, Lund said she was looking forward to the challenges of her new job – maintaining the ceasefire and supporting efforts to deal with minefields, unaccounted people, property disputes and other issues.
Also, 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 is possible also in the UN system to get up in the military hierarchy to become a force commander.”
Major General Lund’s first overseas mission in 1986, as a transport officer with the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, was where she fell in love with the job and learned that “maybe the most important weapon you have is communication and to build relations.”