Farewell statement by outgoing UNFICYP Force Commander, Major General Kristin Lund
When Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon first appointed me as UNFICYP Force Commander in 2014, I was excited to take on the new challenge. As the first ever female Force Commander of a UN Peacekeeping mission, I was venturing into uncharted territory. As a woman, I not only had to do what every male Force Commander is expected to do, I also knew I had to use this opportunity to not only prove that women are up to the task of commanding large, multinational forces, but in addition, to demonstrate that they are capable of excelling in senior roles in a multitude of fields, both in the public and private sector.
I have tried to use my time in Cyprus to lead the dedicated troops of UNFICYP, as well as to impart my experiences to men and women in the civilian sector in Cyprus and beyond. As I leave the island today, I can say that I am proud to have made my own small contribution, not only to the cause of peace in Cyprus and to the UN’s mandate on this beautiful island, but also to changing perceptions about the role women can play in global peace and security.
I would particularly like to thank members of Cypriot civil society from both communities, who have worked with me and the wider UN, particularly to build greater understanding of the vital role Cypriot women can and do play in the island’s peace process. I know your excellent work will continue, and I will continue to cheer your efforts on from the side-lines.
These accomplishments are by no means mine alone, and I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, the leaders of the island and UN, and the men and women of UNFICYP who have steadfastly supported me during my time here. The military, police and civilian components of UNFICYP have always worked closely with me, ensuring that we were able to professionally and successfully execute the mandate of the Mission and support the ongoing negotiations. I leave Cyprus at a time of great optimism around the peace process, and I genuinely believe that with continued cooperation, mutual trust and commitment, a settlement is possible, and soon.
My two years at the helm of UNFICYP have exceeded all my expectations, and I return to Norway with a deep sense of gratitude, but also a touch of sadness, having grown to love the warmth and hospitality that Cypriots are so famous for. I will certainly be back on the island, not as Force Commander, but as a friend of Cyprus.
I wish my successor, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Humayun Kabir, all the very best as he begins his assignment.