Acting deputy Chief of Army Colonel Helen Cooper was elected the first female president of the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centers at the organisation’s 24th Annual Conference held in Auckland recently.
COL Cooper said being elected to the role was a highlight of her 28-year Army career.
“We are a small nation. This is a great way for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to be strongly involved in global peacekeeping training,” she said.
COL Cooper’s career has included being head of the NZDF Youth Development Unit, and a string of operational deployments, including being part of the Cambodia Mine Action Centre in 1999, Company
Commander New Zealand Battalion in East Timor in 2002, and the Chief of Observer Group Lebanon for the
United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation in 2011.
“While working at the Cambodian Mine Action Centre as a technical advisor I had no idea that 20 years later I would be running a conference with the theme of capacity building,” she said.
“I am most looking forward to working with our international partners, bringing their depth of experience to discussions on how we can continue to improve peacekeeping around the globe.
“I want to ensure the already incredible work the IAPTC is involved in continues to keep people safe
around the world.”
This year is the United Nations’ 70th anniversary, and there are currently more than 130,000 people involved in peace operations around the world. Of those, there are more than 110,000 civilians, police and military personnel in peacekeeping missions under the United Nations umbrella. There are a further 21,000 people working in African Union Missions and a number in missions that fall outside these two key organisations, such as the Multinational Force and Observers.
“It is our duty to ensure we provide them the highest level of training, that we look at new ways of training and we understand the changing landscape of peace operations,” Colonel Cooper said.
“Every one of those civilian, police, and military personnel deserve the right to return home safe
and sound.”
The New Zealand Defence Force hosted the conference in partnership with the New Zealand Police, Ministry of Defence, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The partnership reflects New Zealand’s multi-agency approach to peace operations and crisis situations. It also reflects the mix of participants from similar agencies who are expected to attend the conference.

Published in New Zealand Army News 497

Colonel Helen Cooper exchanges a hongi with Chief of Army, Major General John Boswell.