The Training for Peace Programme at ACCORD (TfP/ACCORD), in conjunction with the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), has facilitated an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) workshop on Mainstreaming Protection of Civilian (PoC) Considerations into its Operations. PoC measures to protect the safety of civilians during times of war are currently the main benchmarks used by both the entity that mandates a mission, as well as the international community and host communities to evaluate most peacekeeping operations.
The workshop on Mainstreaming Protection of Civilian (PoC) Considerations into AMISOM Operations was held from 21-22 June 2012, in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop was attended by representatives from the Commission of the African Union (AU) and AMISOM; representatives from Troop Contributing Countries such as the Defence Forces of Ethiopia, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone, and Kenya; the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID); relevant United Nations (UN) agencies and programmes such as UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Somalia, UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Somalia, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as the UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia; and representatives of humanitarian organisations operating in Somalia and non-governmental organisations. TfP/ACCORD was represented by Mr. Zinurine Alghali, Peacekeeping Unit Coordinator; Ms. Seun Abiola, Peacekeeping Unit Senior Programme Officer; and Ms. Mari Fleetwood, Peacekeeping Unit Programme Administrator.
Seeking to protect civilian populations from the adverse effects of intractable conflicts, PoC has been referred to as 'an umbrella concept' of human rights and humanitarian principles, bringing together protection elements from a number of fields, including military and security sectors, human rights and humanitarian law, and humanitarian assistance, and involving numerous actors. While AMISOM does not have an explicit PoC mandate, it nevertheless has an obligation to respect and uphold International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in its operations, and the responsibility to contribute to the protection of the civilian population at risk in its areas of operation, in coordination with other PoC actors. Discussions during the workshop focused on several thematic areas including: a) Strengthening Respect for International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in AMISOM Operations; b) Rules of Engagement and the AMISOM Indirect Fire Policy; c) AMISOM Engagement and Coordination with Other Protection Actors; and d) Effective use of Public Information and Outreach to Enhance Civilian Protection. The workshop supported the current agenda of the AU to enhance respect for IHL in the conduct of AMISOM operations, given the concerns related to the protection of the civilian population in Somalia.
The workshop recommended a process that should be undertaken to facilitate strategic planning and implementation, including the adoption of the AU Draft PoC Guidelines; the development of an AMISOM specific PoC Strategy; and followed by the development of an implementation plan that will be reviewed and adjusted periodically, and to include engagement with the Somali Government and institutions, as well as other PoC actors. The workshop reflects TfP/ACCORD's support to the implementation of the AU Peace and Security Council Directive to mainstream the Draft AU PoC Guidelines into the operations of AMISOM, and follows from contributions to the AU PoC policy process in 2011 which culminated in the facilitation of the AU Strategic Retreat on PoC for the AU Inter-Departmental Working Group on PoC.
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 contact Mr. Zinurine Alghali, Peacekeeping Unit Coordinator on Zinurine@accord.org.za, and Ms. Seun Abiola, Peacekeeping Unit Senior Programme Officer on Seun@accord.org.za