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A Norwegian Is Appointed the First Woman to Lead a UN Peacekeeping Force

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A Norwegian, Maj. Gen. Kristin Lund, has been named the force commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus. General Lund is the first woman to serve in the force commander position in a UN peacekeeping operation. She replaces Maj. Gen. Chao Liu of China in August 2014.

General Kristin Lund of Norway
Maj. Gen. Kristin Lund of Norway, the first woman to lead a UN peacekeeping mission, in Cyprus.

The operation in Cyprus is considered a low-key post, ideal for breaking in a new force commander. It involves supervising cease-fire lines and maintaining a buffer zone that was set up after violence flared in 1974 between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island. About 850 troops and 60 police officers make up the mission, operating on a yearly budget of $56 million. Negotiations on the island’s future have risen and fallen over decades as the current demarcation remains the status quo.

General Lund, who is 55, has garnered decades of military command and staff experience at national and international levels. As brigadier general, she served as deputy commander of the Norwegian Army from 2007 to 2009; that year, she became the first female army officer to be promoted to the rank of major general and was appointed chief of staff of the Norwegian Home Guard, where she was the first female to join as a youth. She was appointed in 2014 to the Norwegian Defense Staff as head of veteran affairs.

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Her previous experience at the UN includes service with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, the UN Protection Force in Sarajevo and elsewhere in the Balkans. General Lund has worked in multinational operations as well, including deployment to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and at NATO’s International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Afghanistan. In addition, she has been head of the Committee on Women in the NATO Forces. (NATO’s new secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, is Norway’s former prime minister. He comes on board in October, replacing a Dane, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.)

General Lund graduated from the Norwegian Defense Command and Staff College, the Norwegian Defense University College and the US Army War College, where she earned a master’s degree in strategic studies. She lives in Oslo and is single.

Her appointment at the UN occurs as Norway’s government has shifted to the right with a new prime minister, Erna Solberg, enacting more stringent codes regarding development aid overseas as well as moving toward more controls on immigration at home. The government just announced it was suspending about $200 million in aid to Hungary because its government was shifting monitoring of the grant to a state-owned company rather than watching it in closer ranks. Norway also said it would withhold $8 million in aid to Uganda, after its president signed an antigay law recently.

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With $4.75 billion allotted to foreign aid in 2013, Norway, an oil economy, remains a top-10 donor country in absolute dollars as well as No. 3 as a percentage of gross national income.

At the UN last November, Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general, appointed Norway’s prime minister, Solberg, as a co-chair of the MDG Advocacy Group, a contingent of eminent people “who have shown outstanding leadership in promoting the implementation” of the development goals and who are meant to push for the goals’ final achievements by 2015. The other chairman is Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda.

 

 

 

 


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Dulcie Leimbach is a co-founder, with Barbara Crossette, of PassBlue. For PassBlue and other publications, Leimbach has reported from New York and overseas from West Africa (Burkina Faso and Mali) and from Europe (Scotland, Sicily, Vienna, Budapest, Kyiv, Armenia, Iceland and The Hague). She has provided commentary on the UN for BBC World Radio, ARD German TV and Radio, NHK’s English channel, Background Briefing with Ian Masters/KPFK Radio in Los Angeles and the Foreign Press Association.

Previously, she was an editor for the Coalition for the UN Convention Against Corruption; from 2008 to 2011, she was the publications director of the United Nations Association of the USA. Before UNA, Leimbach was an editor at The New York Times for more than 20 years, editing and writing for most sections of the paper, including the Magazine, Book Review and Op-Ed. She began her reporting career in small-town papers in San Diego, Calif., and Boulder, Colo., graduating to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and then working at The Times. Leimbach has been a fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies as well as at Yaddo, the artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; taught news reporting at Hofstra University; and guest-lectured at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the CUNY Journalism School. She graduated from the University of Colorado and has an M.F.A. in writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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