The Jakarta Post
Indonesia has committed to increasing the number of troops for United Nations peacekeeping missions overseas, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a recent meeting with Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations (PKOs), on the sidelines of an UN Security Council open debate in New York.
As a top-ten contributor to UN peacekeeping forces, Indonesia has pledged to field 4,000 peacekeepers by the end of 2019. Part of its strategy is to send more women out to UN PKOs and send more of its Blue Helmet troops to flashpoints in the Middle East.
"Indonesia is ready to contribute in sending peacekeepers to Yemen. I also encouraged increasing the number of female peacekeepers for each mission," Retno said after Tuesday's meeting in a recorded statement received on Thursday.
During the meeting, Lacroix expressed his appreciation for Indonesia's active role in PKOs, noting the recent deployment of an 850-strong battalion to the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO).
The French diplomat has been actively campaigning for the greater involvement of women in peacekeeping. UN member states agreed in ministerial meetings in 2016 and 2017 to increase the number of women serving in the military, particularly in peacekeeping.
Jakarta pledged to contribute more to the cause, with Minister Retno saying she would push for institutional change. "In the future, Indonesia hopes there will be adjustments to the policies and the UN procedures to encourage an increase in the role of women in peacekeeping operations," she said, while also indicating Indonesia was prepared to send more than 25 policewomen on various peacekeeping missions.
“Women's [share] in peacekeeping operations is still only a little more than 3 percent, and we want to increase that, so there is certainly some action that needs to be taken. For instance, policies could be [less gender-biased].”
According to recent UN figures, women account for approximately 12.3 percent of all military observers and staff officers, up from just 7.8 percent last year.
By November last year, Indonesia ranked seventh of 124 countries in terms of peacekeeping contributions, with 3,545 personnel assigned to 8 UN peacekeeping missions, of which only 94 are women.
As part of Indonesia's pledge, the minister also announced on Tuesday that the government would send a 140-personnel police unit to the UN peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic (MINUSCA) later this year.
She also urged the international cooperation body to consider codeployment with member states and the use of defense equipment from state contributors in PKOs.
Peacekeeping is one of Indonesia's main priorities in serving on the UN Security Council over the next two years. Jakarta plans to raise the issue of improved training and skills-building for peacekeepers when Indonesia takes on the UNSC presidency in May 2019. The minister said these issues were seen as long-term investment into the professionalism of Indonesian troops.