ACCORD/TfP convenes discussions on first ever civilian-led peacekeeping exercise in Africa in collaboration with Economic Community of Central African States
20 Apr 2016
Civilian capacity for peace operations has often been a gap and challenge in the effective functioning of the African Standby Force (ASF). The Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs) have in the recent past deployed missions in their respective regions where they encountered challenges, although registering some successes. ECCAS, more particularly, the Force Multinationale de l'Afrique Centrale (FOMAC) civilian component, has learnt from its experiences during the deployment of the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in the Central African Republic (MICOPAX) and its transition to the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (AFISM-CAR). Furthermore, after participating in two regional training exercises, KWANZA 2010 and LOANGO 2014, the FOMAC civilian component is keen to implement the recommendations of the LOANGO 2014 exercise which called for an exercise dedicated to the civilian component. To prepare and build a pool of qualified civilian experts who can support integrated and multidimensional mission planning and mission support within the ECCAS region, FOMAC, in partnership with the Training for Peace Programme at ACCORD (ACCORD/TfP), hosted a workshop and the launch of a region-specific training exercise to further develop and improve the capacity and performance of the region's civilian component in Peace Support Operations (PSOs). Despite efforts to build civilian capacities at the continental and regional levels, there is still a need to further strengthen the understanding and expertise of the civilian component of the ASF to reflect the multidimensional nature of PSOs. Previous exercises in ECCAS and in Africa have been largely comprised of military and police, with the planning and execution being steered by the same components. LOANGO 2014, a military exercise, as it was known, involved over three thousand troops from national armies, police organisations and individual civilians, from ECCAS. The simulated exercise was an evaluation of FOMAC's capacity to deploy rapidly and effectively during conflicts in the region. The exercise sought to strengthen the readiness of troops to intervene in local conflicts as well as be part of global anti-terrorism initiatives. To enhance this readiness, ECCAS, in collaboration with ACCORD, convened the Civilian Exercise Launch and Workshop from 21-23 March 2016 in Libreville, Gabon. The workshop and launch was attended by the FOMAC's Member States' focal points, diplomats, representatives from the ECCAS Secretariat, civil society organisations, the African Union, the United Nations mission and civilian components from the other RECs/RMs. The objectives of the Civilian Exercise Launch and Workshop were to sensitise the ECCAS region on the objectives of the exercise; raise awareness and increase sensitisation on the roles and duties of the civilian component in PSOs within the ECCAS region; disseminate the ECCAS Civilian Policy Framework in the region and pave the way for the preparation of the exercise. During the first two days of the workshop, the participants discussed the roles and responsibilities of the civilian component in a PSO environment and compared these roles against the pace of eruption of new conflicts and related security challenges in the region. They also highlighted the need to finalise the process of developing the ECCAS Civilian Policy Framework. The workshop also developed the cycle and framework for the exercise and made recommendations on how to further improve the nature, content and focus of the exercise. The launch of the exercise and closing ceremony was presided over by General Guy Pierre Garcia, ECCAS Deputy Secretary General, who was also instrumental in the establishment of the civilian component within FOMAC. Significantly, the exercise launched on 23 March 2016 was organised and executed by the civilian component, but in collaboration with the police and the military so as to strengthen the multidimensionality of FOMAC as well as to build on lessons learned from the previous exercises that were organised by the military and the police.