AFDEM and the United Nations Department of Field Support (UN DFS) host an Inter-Regional Outreach Worshop for African Civilian Capacities
16 Jan 2014
AFDEM and the United Nations Department of Field Support (UN DFS) organised an inter-regional outreach workshop on African civilian capacities on the theme, “Reaching out to civilian talent, within Africa, for united nations peacekeeping and political missions worldwide”. The three-day workshop was held from the 4th to the 6th of November 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa. The workshop drew in participants from African Troop and Police Countributing Countries (TCCs/PCCs), other member states, the UN New York and field mission staff. All the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) took part in the workshop as well as academia and Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) groups from all over Africa. Other important dignitaries at the workshop included ambassadors or their representatives from Rwanda, Senegal, Benin, Mautitius, Niger, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Libya and Mauritania.The African Union (AU) was represented by officials from its Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD) and the Women and Gender Directorate. This was the 1st inter-regional workshop held by AFDEM and UNDFS on the attraction of civilians from Africa into Peace Support Operations (PSOs). The workshop provided an opportunity for delegates to share information, assess progress, discuss challenges faced in reaching out to civilian talent for UN and political missions in Africa, so that lessons and action plans are drawn for improvement of future peace operations. Specific objectives of the workshop, among others, were to share ideas on how to identify and attract talented African civilian nationals, and to obtain a better understanding of the talent that exists. Mr Ola Brevik, the Minister Counsellor of the Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria, officially opened the session and highlighted the role of his country in peace operations and how the civilian dimension has been a critical component of conflict resolutions. He also made a brief presentation on the Training for Peace (TfP) Programme, which is a brain child of the Norwegian government. The Minister Counsellor then explained the four pillars of the TfP which are training, policy development, research and rostering and how these are utilised in PSOs. He thanked AFDEM and UN DFS for organising such a noble event meant to raise awareness to the people on how civilians can partake in conflict resolution issues. Susan Huntington, the UN DFS Chief, Outreach & DFS HR Focal Point for Women, was the chair of the workshop. She was instrumental in setting the meeting into motion and highlighted all the following agenda items – recruitment, outreach, the difference between recruitment and outreach; issues on gender and the role of women in peacekeeping missions as well as their appointments to senior leadership positions; appointment of Senior Mission Leaders (SML) – as key areas that were fundamental in peace keeping initiatives.She further mentioned that the presence of the UN in the African continent was not as fully prominent as desired thus the need to conceptualise the link on reaching out to civilian talent. The AU made a presentation outlining how the civilian component in the African Standby Force (ASF) which was progressing and the successes and challenges they have met so far. One of the issues which the AU emphasised was the lack of a link between training, rostering and deployment. This was because those who were trained were not being deployed, and on the other hand those selected for some particular training were not of the actual calibre meant for the course they undertook. In addition, the Training Centres of Excellence were focusing too much on the substantive skills and neglecting the mission support functions hence over producing candidates in some skills.