ACCORD/TfP Supports Protection of Civilians Training
21 Apr 2016
ACCORD/TfP has a long standing working relationship with the SADC Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre (RPTC), which was established through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide support to the centre's responsibilities in capacity building for the African Standby Force's components. Annually, the centre's primary objective is to provide courses to its SADC principal Member States but its secondary role is also to offer the training opportunities for non-SADC candidates to participate in capacity building. The SADC-RPTC organised a two weeks Protection of Civilians (PoC) course in March 2016 which focused on the United Nations (UN) and emerging African Union (AU) perspective on PoC. UN training on PoC is quite comprehensive but still seemingly not adequate to address the challenges faced in African Peace Support Operations (PSOs) theatres and continues to be reviewed so as to introduce further improvements. The nature of the challenges faced in African PSOs has influenced the need for the development of an AU PoC training standards framework and a strategy for the dissemination and utilisation of the AU PoC Aide-Mémoire to help training institutions and centres improve their training approach. This will contribute to missions to realistically respond to the challenges encountered in the field. The PoC standards training framework are still under development but they provide a basis for discussion on the need for the AU to move from the UN concept to an appropriately focused African PoC framework that is informed by African empirical knowledge of the issues concerned. Considering that PoC is an underpinning principle of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), the standards training framework and Aide-Mémoire serve as a guide to all PoC actors on the continent. They benefit in particular the relevant government agencies, peacekeepers and humanitarian actors responding to the protection needs of vulnerable civilian groups such as women, children, the sick, elderly and the disabled, caught up in both unarmed and armed conflicts and even in post-conflict situations. The course objective was to show the difference between UN mandated peacekeeping and the application and utilisation of the UN PoC framework, versus that of the AU mandated PSOs that are different due to the hostile nature of the operational environment in which the developing PoC framework is applied. The AU PoC framework is therefore being developed to give those who will be deployed a realistic framework of what they are likely to encounter in deployment circumstances.