With the aim of promoting regional collaboration to optimize the participation of Latin America and the Caribbean in peace operations, 24 defense ministers, vice ministers, and heads of delegation from countries of the region, as well as senior United Nations officials, met on September 12 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the Second Latin American and Caribbean Conference on United Nations Peace Operations.
Training and Technology in Peacekeeping Operations; and Women, Peace, and Security, Gender Perspectives in U.N. Peacekeeping Operations were two of the main themes addressed at the meeting.
The event resulted in the approval of the statute of the Latin American and Caribbean Peacekeeping Cooperation Network, created in Lima in 2022, which was the first institutional mechanism in the world to facilitate regional cooperation at a binational or multinational level in preparation, financing, equipment, logistics, support, and deployment of contingents for peacekeeping operations.
“The United Nations has been carrying out peacekeeping missions for a long time, and we who are Latin America and a region of peace […] have learned to solve our problems with diplomacy and dialog,” said Argentine President Alberto Fernández. “We will continue to accompany the United Nations as long as it remains the center that unites us as a world, and we will always continue to demand respect for peace.”
Argentina’s participation in peacekeeping operations has doubled from four to eight international missions in countries such as Cyprus, Colombia, India-Pakistan, Lebanon, the Middle East, the Central African Republic, Western Sahara, and South Sudan.
In a statement issued to Diálogo on October 6, the Brazilian Ministry of Defense recalled how regional cooperation in peace operations takes place: “By offering training and capacity building, either individually or collectively, through the exchange of experiences, sending Mobile Training Teams, participating in exercises (Command Post Exercises and Field Training Exercises) and other participations that allow interoperability to be improved and regional cooperation to be strengthened.”
According to the Brazilian Defense Ministry, this is done by providing advice and support to the countries of the region to build and develop operational and logistics capabilities, enabling them to start or increase their participation in operations.
During the meeting, authorities visited the Argentine Joint Training Center for Peacekeeping Operations, where they took part in a presentation of 20 special training courses for military and civilian personnel, and also watched a simulated hostage-taking demonstration within the framework of a peacekeeping operation.
Concerning the participation of women from Latin America and the Caribbean in conflict prevention, mediation, peacebuilding, and peacekeeping, which was another topic discussed, Chile’s Undersecretary of Defense Ricardo Montero emphasized the country’s commitment to this issue in his speech at the plenary session.
“We currently continue to be present in Colombia, the Middle East, Cyprus, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Within this framework, a positive aspect to highlight and of which we are proud is that, of the total currently deployed, around 30 percent are women in uniform. This important female participation is reflected particularly in Colombia, where our country is among the main contributors to female military and police observers,” Montero said.
The need to increase the participation of women within peacekeeping missions is a priority for the U.N., Jean-Pierre Lacroix, under secretary-general for U.N. Peace Operations, said at the event. “We must step up efforts to increase the participation of women in peace operations, especially in leadership positions. We recognize the initiatives that several countries in the region have undertaken to this end, and I am sure that their experiences can be valuable in ensuring greater participation of women around the world,” Lacroix said.
At the conclusion of the meeting, participants signed the Buenos Aires Declaration, known as “The Duty to Make Peace,” strengthening the commitment to peace and cooperation in the region.