United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that Norwegian Major General Kristin Lund had “broken through the glass ceiling” to become the first woman ever to command a UN peacekeeping operation. He appointed Lund to take over the UN Peacekeeping Force on Cyprus.
Lund will replace Major General Chao Liu of China on August 13, when she takes command of the forces in an area still tense after Turkey’s invasion of the island more than 40 years ago.
“In the 66 years that the UN has maintained peacekeeping operations, we’ve had a series of men as commanders, but Kristin Lund breaks the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman in such a position,” Ban said.
He noted that the Cyprus operation will become the first ever to actually have two women as leaders, since Lisa Buttenheim of the US leads the civilian portion of the UN operation.
Lund is accustomed to breaking new ground as a veteran officer in the Norwegian military. She has more than 34 years of military command and staff experience at both the national and international levels. As a brigadier general, she served as deputy commander of the Norwegian Army Forces Command from 2007 to 2009, when she became the first woman to be promoted to major general and be appointed chief of the staff of the Norwegian Home Guard. She was appointed head of Norway’s Veterans Administration earlier this year.
She has also served with the UN in Lebanon, was deployed to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and worked at NATO’s ISAF headquarters in Afghanistan.
Lund, age 56, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that she’ll be responsible for maintaining “law and order” in the UN-controlled demilitarized zone on Cyprus that was set up in 1974, after Turkey invaded parts of the island. The buffer zone is around 180 kilometers long and varies from just a few meters to around seven kilometers wide. The UN also is involved in clearing land mines in the area.
“I’m proud and very happy to receive this appointment, and I’m looking forward to starting,” Lund said at the meeting with the UN secretary general in New York on Monday. “I know Cyprus well, both as beautiful and as a place with political challenges. My job will be to lead the monitoring of the 1974 agreement.”
Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide was delighted by the appointment of another Norwegian to a high-level UN post. “I’m proud of the fact that a Norwegian officer has been asked to lead the UN operation Cyprus,” Søreide said.