As part of current efforts to populate the African Standby Capacity (ASC) Roster and to prepare rostered experts to be ready for deployment, the African Union Commission (AUC) Peace Support Operations Division (AUC PSOD) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) organised the African Union Protection of Civilians Specialisation Course for African Standby Capacity Rostered Members.
Protection of Civilians (PoC) has become one of the main concerns and mandated tasks of AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs). This is in response to the fact that in the context of contemporary conflicts, civilians are victims of atrocities and violations and have become clear objects of attack by armed actors. In this regard, peacekeepers are increasingly expected to protect local populations from attacks and human rights violations. Furthermore, any violation committed by peacekeepers has tremendous effects on the perception and the credibility of a PSO and ultimately the United Nations (UN), AU, Regional Economic Communities (RECs)/Regional Mechanisms (RM).
The objective of the specialisation course was to equip rostered personnel and experts involved in serving or are currently serving in missions or providing training at various training institutions, with the relevant PoC knowledge to make them effective and efficient in executing their roles and functions in PSOs. As a result, the training aimed to: enhance the participants’ understanding of the context in which AU PSOs are deployed while articulating the implication of the PoC mandate on the deployment and activities of a mission; enhance the understanding of the AU’s strategic approach to protection within the framework of related policies and guidance documents that inform PoC PSOs decision making, coordination, monitoring and evaluation, field management; while equipping participants with the enhanced knowledge, skills and tools to effectively plan and implement PoC mandates in AU PSOs.
The course also focused on the importance of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), International Human Rights Law (IHRL), child protection, gender, conflict-related sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and a host of other violations that have been reported in PSOs theatres.
The workshop was attended by participants who are currently rostered in the AU Standby Capacity Roster which have mostly came the RECs/RMs and researchers and civil servants from the Departments of Foreign Affairs of various AU Member States.
This initiative also seeks to contribute to improve sustainable capacity for the conduct of PSO’s on the continent through ensuring effective functioning of organizational systems in the RECs/RMs.
ACCORD was represented by Miss Precious Ngcobo-Mtshali: Programme Administrator in ACCORD Peacekeeping Unit.