Training For Peace in Southern Africa
by Cedric Coning, ACCORD, Johannesburg, S. Africa December 2012

The increase in violent conflict in the post cold war era has highlighted the need for a comprehensive, multifunctional approach to conflict management. The main characteristics of conflict today are its intrastate nature and the role of civilians as both perpetrators and victims of violent conflict. Interventions aimed at meaningful peace have to include a broad range of diverse activities that are aimed, amongst others, at demobilisation (often including child soldiers), finding a new commonly accepted state system, re-engineering most state functions such as the criminal justice system, and socioeconomic development. The result is that modern peacekeeping missions include a wide range of civilian personnel who are responsible for such diverse activities as humanitarian assistance, human rights monitoring, election monitoring, civilian police monitoring, social justice reform and civil administration.

This shift in emphasis has posed new challenges such as developing and coordinating capacity in order to achieve and maintain one holistic peace mission approach.  Subsequent developments resulted in the 1992 call by the then Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, for the establishment of regional and subregional peacekeeping training centres. The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded by investigating the feasibility of a project to enhance capacity in Southern Africa in the conflict management and peacekeeping fields. As a result, the Training for Peace Project (TfP) was established in 1995 with the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) [then known as the Institute for Defence Policy] and the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) as partners.

The TfP Partnership

ACCORD is primarily responsible for training with some involvement in policy development and research activities. ISS engages in policy research activities and the production of publications documenting local peacekeeping concepts, trends and techniques, and is responsible for the CIVPOL part of the training mandate. NUPI is responsible for providing resource persons and advice on policy and project development, as well as general project coordination.

Objectives of the TfP

  • To develop and conduct a series of training programmes with the aim of building a realistic group of stand-by personnel within Southern Africa
  • To include in the training programmes participants from the defence and foreign affairs ministries and NGOs of the interested countries in the region so as to contribute to the development of consistency in approach within these three sectors, as well as an appreciation of the differing and complementary roles of each sector.
  • To include participants from as many of the 11 SADC countries as possible in each training session, and thereby contribute to the creation of a common language and common culture of peacekeeping
  • To conduct seminars and workshops to develop new understanding, knowledge and approaches that will provide the basis for more effective training and education, as well as enhance policy-making and public awareness of the challenges involved.
  • To promote policy development in peacekeeping in order to formulate, document, analyse and apply innovative ideas from elsewhere, as well as local concepts and techniques to improve peacekeeping within the region.

The Peacemaking Programme at ACCORD

The Peacekeeping Programme at ACCORD is responsible for implementing ACCORD’s mandate under the Training for Peace Project. ACCORD has conducted peacekeeping training workshops under the TfP banner in 11 of the 14 SADC countries from 1996 to 1998. In 1999, ACCORD was asked to design and coordinate all the civilian components for Exercise Blue Crane, a brigade-level SADC peacekeeping exercise held in South Africa. In the second half of 1999, ACCORD developed a new conflict management course for peacekeepers. This course was subsequently presented at part of the UN Company Commanders Course, the UN Staff Officers Course and the UN Military Observers Course conducted by the SADC Regional Peacekeeping Training Center (RPTC) in Harare. It was also presented as part of the 2nd SADC UN Police Officers Course. ACCORD similarly conducted the Civil Military Liaison Officer’s Course at the RPTC in November 1999, the first time a CIMIC course has been presented in Africa.

ACCORD has also organised a number of policy related seminars under the TfP banner aimed at influencing and impacting on policy development in Southern Africa. The Peacekeeping Programme at ACCORD also publishes an occasional paper series aimed at influencing the peacekeeping policy debate in southern Africa. It is aimed at the policy and practitioner level, and while the series is open to a broad range of authors it is specifically targeted at providing young African authors with a publishing outlet.

The Peacekeeping Programme at ACCORD is increasingly focused on the civilian aspects of peacekeeping, on civil–military relations and on conflict management training for peacekeepers. In October this  year, ACCORD, as part of the TfP Project, will present the first civilian peacekeeping course.

ACCORD and the TfP are also active in a number of international fora presenting the African perspective on developments in the peacekeeping field. ACCORD is, for example, the current chair of the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centres (IAPTC) and will host the 6th Annual IAPTC Conference in June 2000 in South Africa.

To learn more about ACCORD and the Training for Peace in Southern Africa project visit <www.accord.org.za>

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