Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Prak Sokhonn, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has highlighted the key role of women in peacekeeping operations under the UN umbrella.
“The significant role that women have played in the area of peacekeeping operations is certainly noteworthy. Since 2006, more than 8.000 Cambodian Blue berets served in 9 countries under the umbrella of the United Nations. Currently, 801 Cambodian troops, out of which 118 are women, are serving in South Sudan, Lebanon, Central African Republic and Mali,” he pointed out in his remarks at the Gender, Law and Armed Conflict: At the Intersection of International Humanitarian Law and the WPS Agenda Workshop, held at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh this morning.
In terms of women peacekeepers, he underlined, Cambodia ranks number 2 in ASEAN and number 12 among all troops contributing countries.
The ASEAN Defense Ministers have expressly recognised women’s role when they adopted the Concept Paper on Enhancing Supporting Mechanism for ASEAN Women Peacekeepers, said H.E. Prak Sokhonn, adding that more recently, at the ADMM Plus that was held in Siem Reap, they have expressed their commitment to strengthen meaningful participation of women in peace and security cooperation, in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
“In my view, the approach we have taken on WPS is not limited nor restricted only to peace and conflict issues. We have engaged in other dimensions, the like of human security and sustainable development. We all can appreciate the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the job prospect and well-being of women and children even during peacetime. This is an integral aspect of security as well,” he said.
The Cambodian DPM also mentioned about the importance of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the body of law that governs armed conflicts. It is designed to protect combatants and civilians of all genders by restricting the means and methods of warfare. “If we can use the IHL to add legal force to the WPS protection pillar, I believe it would be a big step forward,” he said.
H.E. Prak Sokhonn thus called for discussions on WPS-IHL linkage and some possible approaches to synergise the two elements.