Serving the Peace

Major General Juha Kilpiä

- Currently Head of Mission and Chief of Staff of UNTSO in the Middle East.
– Military Representative of Finland to the European Union and NATO (2007–2009)
– Commander of the Multinational Task Force in EU operation EUFOR Althea (2004–2005)
– Battalion Commander in NATO operation IFOR/SFOR (1996–1997)
– Chief of Operations in UN peacekeeping operations UNIFIL in 1991–1992 and UNDOF in 1993

Juha Kilpiä in Namibia

Peacekeeping since 1955
- Finland became a member of the United Nations in 1955. Soon after we took part in our first peacekeeping operation in Suez, in the United Nations Emergency Force 1. Since then Finland has gained a lot of experience in UN peacekeeping operations in the Middle East, India and Pakistan, the Balkans and Africa, recounts Major General Juha Kilpiä.

Political History Enables Impartiality
In March 2011 General Kilpiä was appointed as Head of Mission and Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, UNTSO, in the Middle East. He follows other high-ranking Finnish military officers serving the UN since the 1950s, amongst them Lieutenant General Ensio Siilasvuo, who participated in many UN Middle East peace activities in the 1970s. On account of Finland’s neutrality during the Cold War, competent Finnish experts like General Siilasvuo were viewed as suitable candidates to serve as peacekeepers and mediators in conflicts that were infused with superpower interests.

- Finland has been an active troop contributor to UNTSO and, for the time being, Finland is actually the largest troop-contributing nation to UNTSO – the longest serving peacekeeping operation. It was established in 1948 to supervise the truce between Israel and its Arab neighbors: Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. Still today UNTSO maintains engagement with the 1949 armistice agreements and continues to deploy military observers to Lebanon and Golan, notes Mr. Kilpiä.

- In the current, continuously developing and challenging situation UNTSO has maintained relations and open dialogue with military and political authorities in the region. This offers UNTSO a regional perspective on domestic and regional developments that may impact UN operations in the Middle East.

Major General Kilpiä brings extensive command, peacekeeping and crisis management experience to his new position. Earlier he has served as the Military Representative of Finland to the European Union and NATO in Brussels. He has also served as Chief of Operations in UN peacekeeping operations in UNIFIL in 1991 in Lebanon and UNDOF in 1993 in Golan.

Success Comes from Experience
Mr. Kilpiä emphasizes: “Finnish peacekeeping success is based on long-term field experience. The fundamentals are crisis management competence, multilateral cooperation, flexibility, impartiality and relationships building with the locals. However, the most important corner stone is the wide range of civilian skills of the Finnish troops.”

Collaborative Comprehensive Approach
- We need to have a comprehensive approach when solving these issues, because a military solution is not the only one. On this approach, Finland has a very long tradition. Finland used to execute the “quick impact projects” together with the local population, and later we were among the lead developers of the civil-military cooperation concept, which has become a basic element in comprehensive peacekeeping,” Mr. Kilpiä concludes.