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Under the 2001 New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) several UN member states pledged their support for NEPAD’s overarching vision and policy framework to accelerate economic cooperation and integration among African countries. In tandem, the Italian Government promoted initiatives to support peace and security in Africa, with the aim of strengthening Africa’s institutional capacity to prevent, manage and resolve conflict through the organization and financing of peacekeeping programmes for African military personnel. To achieve this, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs entrusted UNSSC with the development of a learning programme to train African Military Personnel in Conflict Prevention, Human Rights and Peacekeeping.
Constituting a significant political and financial commitment by Italy, the learning programme made a meaningful contribution towards capacity building for African military institutions which had sought learning initiatives that would enable them to better manage and participate in peacekeeping missions at regional and national level. In 2004, two three-week residential courses were launched in Turin and Brindisi for 70 mid-to high-ranking military officers from various African countries. The delegates were selected through a process that identified troops who played an active role in UN Peacekeeping operations.
The learning programme was designed to provide participants important knowledge on the principles, concepts and procedures of United Nations peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and human rights aspects. To ensure the delivery of an effective, well-rounded learning experience, UNSSC brought together a training team made up of resource persons from UNSSC, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UN-DPKO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies , the Army Training Command and Application School in Turin, and The Alpine Brigade "Taurinense."
The selected delegates gained new insights on the application of the procedures of UN Planning Processes at Force Commander Level, and went on to train fellow colleagues who work in peacekeeping operations. The training of military personnel is a long-term endeavor where progress should be measured in decades, not years. Even where clear progress is made, one-off training initiatives are no panacea.
Our experience with this training programme suggests that there is room to explore practical ways to build more effective and accountable peacekeeping missions.