Speaking during a welcoming ceremony on Monday at the Mission’s headquarters, in the Buffer Zone, Spehar told Pearce that “all of us at UNFICYP are delighted to have you join our ranks.”
“You have a critical role to play in our efforts to achieve the benchmarks set by the Mission’s mandate. The peacekeepers under your command work every day to maintain the stability of the 180-kilometer long Buffer Zone through patrolling and liaison functions. This is vital for us in terms of the bigger picture—achieving sustainable peace in Cyprus,” she added.
Spehar said moreover that “this goal is as germane today as it was when this Mission started. It is a goal I know we all share - the dream of a united Cyprus.”
The Head of UNFICYP also noted the sensitive political climate, in which peacekeepers conduct regular liaison with the two sides on the island.
Moreover, Spehar underlined the fact that “UNFICYP becomes the only UN peacekeeping operation in history to not only be led by a female Special Representative of the Secretary General, but to now also have female leadership in both uniformed components.”
“I hope your example will help encourage increasing numbers of women in senior UN peacekeeping roles,” she added.
The Australian flag was raised during the ceremony to welcome the new Force Commander, in the presence of Australian High Commissioner to Cyprus, Sam Beever, according to a tweet by UNFICYP.
Major General Pearce succeeds Major General Mohammad Humayun Kabir of Bangladesh, who completed his assignment on 6 October 2018.
As Spehar said, Major General Pearce had a distinguished military career in the Australian Defence Forces, most recently as Commandant of the Australian Defence Force Academy.
Pearce also served as the Australian Army Headquarters Chief of Staff and, from 2010 to 2012, as Director of Special Operations Support. She was a military observer with the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor in 2002 and served in Afghanistan in 2016 as part of NATO, among others.
“Increasing the numbers of women serving in peacekeeping is an important priority for the UN and with Major General Pearce’s appointment we are proud to lead the way,” said UNFICYP Spokesperson Aleem Siddique.
He also noted that UNFICYP is one of the few peacekeeping missions led by a woman, Elizabeth Spehar, and has women in charge of both military and police components.
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