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Filipino Woman to Command Its Haitian Peacekeeping Post

The Philippines has named its first woman to a command post in a United Nations peacekeeping mission. Capt. Luzviminda Camacho, who was also the first woman to command a Filipino Navy ship, will lead the Filipino peacekeeping contingent deployed to protect the perimeter of  the UN peacekeeping force headquarters in Haiti, the Inquirer newspaper in Manila reported.

Capt. Luzviminda Camacho
Capt. Luzviminda Camacho of the Philippines.

Captain Camacho, who was scheduled to leave the Philippines at the end of October, will command a 157-member force of military officers and other personnel being sent to Haiti that will also provide administrative and logistical office services and operate military vehicles assigned to force headquarters, the newspaper said.

Although Captain Camacho’s contingent is not large by UN peacekeeping standards, she will be in a position to monitor interaction between troops and local people, particularly Haitian women, who should be protected under theResolution 1325of Security Council Resolution 1325. The UN has 10,489 peacekeepers and civilians working in Haiti. The Filipino unit consists of 12 officers and 145 enlisted personnel, another news report said.

Under UN rules, it is the country commander of any national contingent, small or large, to police human rights and reprimand offenders. Many of these commanders, almost always men, have not taken this responsibility seriously. A report from the International Peace Institute in July said that fewer than 4 percent of UN peacekeepers, military and police are women, but they are not rising to general military commands in UN peacekeeping.While women have been appointed UN special representatives of the secretary-general to oversee entire missions, civilian and military, they are not rising to the level of force commanders on the military side of peacekeeping.

The report noted that there have been few women leading national contingents and none in command of a full peacekeeping force. Two women from Norway, Ingrid Gjerde and Ann Clearance, led their country’s contingent in Afghanistan in 2011, the report said. But the following year, when Norway proposed that a woman be named top force commander of a peacekeeping mission, its candidate was not selected.

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Barbara Crossette is the senior consulting editor and writer for PassBlue and the United Nations correspondent for The Nation. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She has also contributed to the Oxford Handbook on the United Nations.

Previously, Crossette was the UN bureau chief for The New York Times from 1994 to 2001 and previously its chief correspondent in Southeast Asia and South Asia. She is the author of “So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas,” “The Great Hill Stations of Asia” and a Foreign Policy Association study, “India Changes Course,” in the Foreign Policy Association’s “Great Decisions 2015.”

Crossette won the George Polk award for her coverage in India of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and the 2010 Shorenstein Prize for her writing on Asia.

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