The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, today announced the appointment of the Australian Defence Force's Brigadier Cheryl Pearce, on promotion to Major General, as Force Commander of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

Minister for Defence, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, in congratulating Brigadier Pearce, said this was a great opportunity for Australia to contribute to global peacekeeping efforts, and to mark our commitment to the United Nations.

"Australia has a long and proud history of contributing to international peacekeeping and peace building efforts," Minister Pyne said.

"The United Nations' selection of an Australian Defence Force officer to lead its force in Cyprus is testimony to the high regard in which our contribution is held by the international community".

"This is only the second time the United Nations has appointed a woman to lead a peacekeeping mission, and it is an important mark of our commitment to enhancing the participation of women in peace and security activities".

Brigadier Pearce has a distinguished record of service, including operational service with the United Nations in East Timor in 2002 where she was awarded a Chief of Defence Commendation for bravery and as Commander Task Group Afghanistan in 2016. A Member of the Order of Australia, her most recent appointment was as the Commandant of the Australian Defence Force Academy.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Marise Payne said "I welcome the appointment of Brigadier Cheryl Pearce as Force Commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus. The involvement of women in peacekeeping operations, especially at senior levels, enhances the prospects of reaching sustainable peace. I wish her every success in her role."

Established in 1964 to prevent a recurrence of fighting between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus monitors the ceasefire and provides a buffer zone between the two groups. The force consists of over 1000 personnel from 10 contributing nations, including the United Kingdom, Argentina and Slovakia. Australia provided police officers to this mission for 53 years.

A long-standing contributor to United Nations peacekeeping, Australia currently has a number of Australian Defence Force personnel serving in key peacekeeping roles in the Middle East and Africa.

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