To support the operationalisation and readiness of the Central African Multinational Force (FOMAC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) Secretariat General has initiated a capacity development programme for its civilian Component in order for the region to have a well-trained pool of civilian experts who are able to participate in Peace Support Operations (PSOs), and specifically PSOs of the Council for Peace and Security Council in Central Africa (COPAX). This Council works for the promotion, maintenance and consolidation of peace and security in Central Africa. The capacity development programme will be implemented through a civilian exercise which will be informed both by the theory and practice of peacekeeping.

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As part of FOMAC’s Rapid Deployment Capability, ECCAS therefore hopes to develop a civilian component which will be able to deploy in high intensity conflicts to address the challenges of security and enhance the protection of civilians.

It is against this backdrop that ECCAS organised a PSOs Foundation Course that ran from 30 May – 03 June 2016, in Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo Brazzaville. The course, to develop FOMAC civilian PSO capabilities, was organised pursuant to the recommendations of COPAX. The regional council aims to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts in Central Africa, while promoting, maintaining and consolidating peace and security in the sub-region.

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The foundation course provided participants with a general introduction to skills and knowledge related to the concept of peace operations under the mandate of ECCAS, the African Union (AU) or the United Nations (UN). The course, which was conducted over five days, discussed the general context of peace operations, the legal framework for PSOs, and provided a comprehensive understanding of the history and evolution of peace operations as well as addressing topics related to planning and managing a peacekeeping operation. Apart from the focus on the theory of PSOs, practical exercises, sharing field experiences and lessons learned, the course put special emphasis on personal safety issues, risk prevention, international humanitarian law, protection of civilians, conflict analysis, security sector reform and sexual and gender based violence. The course content was drafted in partnership with the AU, Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) and training Centres of Excellences.

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The course especially introduced participants to different contexts in which they would probably find themselves in once deployed in the field. The foundation course was further intended to build the capacity of civilians in decision making and planning of PSOs, and facilitated qualitative participation in future FOMAC civilian exercises by civilians attending the course. ACCORD, ECCAS and other partners are planning to organise such a civilian exercise in late 2017.

ACCORD/TfP was represented by Mr Fabrice Tunda, Programme Officer – Peacekeeping Unit.

The Training for Peace Programme at ACCORD is an initiative funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For more information on ACCORD’s work through the TfP programme, please contact Ms Irene Limo, Senior Programme Officer – Peacekeeping Unit, ACCORD on irene@accord.org.za.

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