The Peace Support Operations (PSOs) framework has been continually changing in response to the ever changing and fluid peace and security environment on the African continent. The nature of conflict has in the past two decades also become very diverse, unpredictable and dynamic and has thus has been consistently putting pressure on decision makers to have in place mechanisms that respond to these challenges and the development of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) has been a notable effort. While the United Nations is the body with the global responsibility, mandate and resources to respond to conflict threats, its operational approach is guided by principles that do not allow for early response to any situations that threaten the security of vulnerable civilian communities that are in conflict zones although recent recommendations for the UN to reconsider its operational approach suggest otherwise. The UN Peacekeeping framework demands that there should be a peace agreement in place for the UN to deploy a peacekeeping mission while some, if not most of the situations confronting the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Division (PSD) decision makers, demand rapid response to avert atrocities resulting from the activities of armed groups that target civilian communities to achieve their objectives.
Regrettably the memories of Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and a host of other such similar cases are still very fresh on the African continent’s conscience that against such atrocities, the AU has to have in place mechanisms to rapidly respond and minimize, if not stop such carnage when hostilities of such a nature erupt. The focus is on protecting vulnerable communities but the provisions of the UN when conducting peace missions are not adequate in the African Union mandated operations contexts. Peacekeeping and Peace Support Operations (PSOs) are guided by sets of principles that converge in certain situations but are generally different. Even if the mandates may clearly spell out the Protection of Civilians (PoC) as a mission responsibility, the contexts are however often different.
Pursuant to the foregoing, and forced by circumstances influencing African PSOs, the PSD through its Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD) embarked on a task to develop a training standards framework that clearly outlines the circumstances that obtain in any AU mandated mission so that training can adequately prepare and equip peacekeepers with the requisite knowledge and understanding of the actual circumstances that prevail in the operational field and how they are supposed to carry out PoC. The process began in February 2016, in Nairobi, Kenya when PoC Learning Objectives that had clearly outlined and appropriately selected Modules that are pertinent to African mission environments were developed. After that workshop, PSOD allowed for further inputs to come from the respective AU PSOs stakeholder institutions so that the training standards could benefit from and be enriched by a wider AU PSOs knowledge base. The draft was then, on the just ended workshop, reviewed. At this point the draft had been developed further with the inclusion of teaching points for each module. The workshop, whose aim was to finalise the training standards framework and validate the final product, worked through four days and produced the final PoC Training Standards Framework and validated the document that was at the end of the workshop submitted to PSOD for further processing within the AU structures so that it can be approved and disseminated to training stakeholders for use in their training activities.