NEPAL: Ban Seeks More Nepali Women Peacekeepers

Saturday, June 21, 2014
The Himalayan Times
Southern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged Nepal to appoint more female peacekeepers so as to make UN peacekeeping missions inclusive and gender balanced. Ban made this request when he received Prime Minister Sushil Koirala at his office in the UN Headquarters in New York, late Friday.

Taking time out from his health check-up in New York, Koirala met Ban and discussed a wide range of issues, including UN peace missions, constitution-making and transitional justice processes in Nepal.

With 3,861 soldiers deployed in UN peace missions, Nepal is currently the sixth largest troops contributor. Only 82 of them are female soldiers.

“The UN is striving for gender balance in peacekeeping forces,” Ban was quoted by the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the UN in a statement. “We encourage Nepal to provide more female peacekeepers.” He, however, did not mention how many women troops the global body expects from Nepal.

Ban appreciated the professionalism and courage shown by Nepali peacekeepers in highly challenging UN missions, including in Iraq, Syria, South Sudan and Congo.

On his part, Koirala assured continued contribution to UN peacekeeping, and said the number of Nepali women peacekeepers would increase, according to the Permanent Mission to the UN.

Nepali Army spokesperson Jagadish Chandra Pokharel said, currently Nepal has deployed two per cent female soldiers in UN missions, which is one of the highest among troops contributing countries. He also added that percentage wise, the female soldiers deployed was proportionate to the female strength in the Nepali Army.

“Ensuring more women participation in the force and in peace missions is one of our priorities, ” Pokharel said. Currently, women comprise 2.5 percent of the 96,924 strong Nepali Army.

Ban encouraged Nepal to make use of available UN system organs, such as the one for LDCs and LLDCs, for economic development.

The PM highlighted the development potential of Nepal in the field of hydropower, tourism, agriculture and valuable herbs, and also emphasised that Nepal — both as LDC and LLDC — deserved special support of the international community in its development endeavours.

Apprising Ban on the current political situation in Nepal, Koirala assured that a new democratic constitution would be promulgated soon as major political parties were committed to this.

“The new democratic constitution will be ready within the stipulated time of January 2015,” he said. “No time will be wasted in this regard.”

Earlier, Ban had highlighted the importance of a timeline for promulgation of the new constitution.

Responding to the Secretary-General's concern about the formation of a credible transitional justice mechanism in post-conflict situations, Koirala highlighted Nepal's recently enacted instruments for truth and reconciliation and enforced disappearances and assured that these instruments aim at reconciliation and not mass amnesty as expressed by certain quarters.