As their first event of the year, the PSPA Society successfully kickstarted the semester with a refreshing and relevant talk about “Peacekeeping in South Lebanon”, led by Major Nina Raduha, the first woman commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), on Thursday Oct. 2.
On May 22, Major Nina Raduha from Slovenia took charge of UNIFIL’s Slovenian contingent, becoming the first woman to command a UNIFIL contingent. Given the environment of our local communities, it is obvious why this achievement can be seen as beneficial, positive, and encouraging.
While several audience members, prior to the commencement of the lecture, believed the lecture to revolve around women’s advancement and progress, thus giving it a strong feminist connotation, Major Nina Raduha made it evident that this was not her overarching theme or aim for the lecture.
When asked about the choice for the event, Farah Abou Harb, president of the PSPA Society, explained that they knew it would not be easy to make this event happen, but were eager to try.
The society found the event to be an insightful discussion to be brought to campus, and they plan on organizing more events throughout the academic year. Next spring, they will be hosting and organizing an international conference, on the topic of addressing terrorism, either through conflict or through peaceful means.
Major Nina Raduha delivered her talk by dividing it into three segments, beginning with an overview of UNIFIL. The bulk of the talk revolved around discussing what peacekeeping is like, and finally concluded with Raduha describing her personal journey leading up to her current position.
Raduha went over UNIFIL’s mandate, stating its two goals of sustaining peace, and monitoring the cessation of hostilities. According to her, there are 41 troop-contributing countries, and the area of operations in Lebanon is between the Litani River and the Blue line, with peacekeepers patrolling the south day and night in vehicles, on foot or from the air.
They work closely and cooperatively with the Lebanese Armed Forces, learning and sharing skills. As for the second part of her talk, Major Raduha aimed to communicate to the audience the meaning of peacekeeping as a process, and ultimately as a “full time job”.
Raduha made a point to emphasize UNIFIL peacekeepers’ relationship with the local population, mentioning how they take into consideration the differences in culture by respecting local customs and concerns.
“If you want to create peace, you need time. If you do big steps you won’t do a good job,” stated Major Raduha.
Towards the end of the talk, she chose to describe her job in the context of her personal experience as a woman.
“You need to sometimes do more to get the same effect as men but it’s not hard because it’s very satisfying and sometimes you can get a special gift, like being the first,” she expressed.
She ended her talk by stressing on the importance of accepting all challenges, and acknowledging the rewards of working hard and with heart.