On July 22nd, IPI, with co-hosts Ethiopia, Indonesia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, held a virtual discussion on Impact-Driven Peacekeeping Partnerships for Capacity Building and Training, guided in part by a new IPI white paper on the subject. The event and the paper served as input to the next United Nations peacekeeping ministerial-level meeting in April 2021 in Seoul and to a preparatory meeting on the subject co-chaired by Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Japan due to take place sometime beforehand in Addis Ababa.
“In peacekeeping, training and capacity building are the cornerstones for ensuring the efficient performance and the safety and security of all peacekeepers,” said Cho Hyun, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the UN.
He chose to highlight three aspects of the white paper—expanding the participation of women in peacekeeping operations; broadening and standardizing missions’ use of digital technology; and strengthening the medical capacity of peacekeeping operations, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. While noting new awareness of the need to include women in peacekeeping, Ambassador Cho stressed that “barriers and challenges remain for uniformed women in the field, and we need to discuss how to overcome these challenges. We may need to explore new ideas, such as creating female platoons, instead of just a few women peacekeepers in a platoon mainly made up of men. Such female platoons may be better placed for engaging with local communities.”
Dian Triansyah Djani, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the UN, said his country had been increasing the number of women assigned to peacekeeping, with notably positive results. “We have found when handling cases of child or sexual abuse in a community, local women were more inclined to talk to women peacekeepers. As such, they have to have training in psychology, health, and other social issues. Community engagement, cultural awareness, language skills, and addressing sexual exploitation and violence against women and children are all important in the role of women peacekeepers.” At the same time, Ambassador Djani said, women peacekeepers’ needs were not properly accommodated, gender was not sufficiently “mainstreamed” in peacekeeping decision-making. “The need to increase spaces for women peacekeepers, including their living quarters, is ignored. The questions of leave for mothers and other such issues that affect women disproportionately require a different approach.”
Ambassador Djani said that Indonesia had advocated for more emphasis on community engagement in peacekeeping training. “With COVID-19, it is more important than ever to win the hearts and minds of the community,” he said. “Peacekeeping operations are not effective without the support of the local population. Most importantly, community engagement is necessary to better protect and serve the needs of the people. With that in mind, in our training centers in Indonesia, we equip our peacekeepers with language skills, soft skills, and understanding and respect for local cultures.”
The author of the white paper, IPI Senior Non-resident Adviser Arthur Boutellis, singling out one of the report’s 13 recommendations, emphasized the need to build sustainable, systemic, and institutional capabilities within troop- and police-contributing countries (TCC/PCCs). “Training and capacity building starts at home, and countries need to integrate and value peacekeeping in their own national curriculum and develop their own national support system,” he said. Elaborating on another recommendation, Mr. Boutellis also stressed the importance of joint initiatives and partnerships, saying “Capacity providers interested in improving peacekeeping, but lacking the resources to do so alone, should join existing training partnerships programs such as the Triangular Partnerships Project (TPP), which has expanded in scope and region, or join a joint capacity building partnership.”
On another point, he cited the “proliferation” of in-mission trainings but warned they should be limited to addressing capability gaps that had been identified by the UN as “critically hampering” the security of TCC/PCCs or the implementation of the mandate of the mission, “notably when it comes to the protection of civilians.” On evaluation, he said, “Member states and the UN should work closely together to better link performance evaluation to training and capacity building efforts and create feedback loops.”
Mark Pedersen, Director, Integrated Training Service, UN Department of Peace Operations, highlighted the importance of building self-sustaining national capacity, which he said led to an improvement in peacekeepers’ self-employment, their pre-deployment preparations, their training, and rotations. “Much capacity building focuses on skills, but unless these skills are built on a solid professional basis of military and police skills, the result is a house built on sand.” He said this was particularly true in the case of women peacekeepers. “Focusing on core skills is important to help member states deploy more female peacekeepers, who must be deployed into operational roles in battalions, police components and headquarters. To succeed, they need the same military and police skills and experience opportunities as their male counterparts. One way to do this is to work with the TCC/PCCs to strengthen the female components of their forces, especially at the junior commissioned officer level, so these women become examples for others.”
A survey conducted by his office last year identified the priority areas for training and capacity-building, in descending order, as they relate to pre-deployment training, lessons learned, deployment, sustainment, force generation, and rotation. “Addressing systemic capacities will make a massive difference,” he said. “There are cost-light opportunities, where a small amount of niche experience will make a big difference.”
Kristina Zetterlund, Counsellor, Civilian Adviser of the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN, said that increasing the number of women peacekeepers should be prioritized. “Peacekeeping operations must have a gender lens. Training on this means ensuring there is an understanding of the different needs, interests, and opportunities of girls and women and boys and men on planning and implementing tasks in the field.” Asserting that “more inclusive processes make for more sustainable results,” Ms. Zetterlund said that missions should work on “gender mainstreaming with a long-term view, making sure efforts are sustainable, even after missions transition.”
Michael L. Smith, Director, Office of Global Programs and Initiatives, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, US Department of State, outlined the US Global Peace Operations (GPO) initiative and the direct link between its provisions for capacity building and UN force generation efforts. “Our process for assessing and prioritizing training, equipping or other assistance requests has evolved with the establishment of the UN Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System (PCRS) groups. We require all new assistance be linked to a capability pledge in PCRS. Formally registering a pledge requires demonstrating political commitment, which helps ensure that our assistance packages are supporting a viable, deployable capability.” Mr. Smith said the GPO promotes ongoing “full training capability,” and he stressed that “pre-deployment training alone will not produce an effective peacekeeping unit without an upstream military education system to develop core staff and soldier skills. This needs to exist within a broader structure of human resources, financial resources, and logistics.” He detailed a three-tiered monitoring and evaluation framework, based on “outputs, outcomes, and impacts. It’s more of an art than a science because it relies on anecdotal analysis, mission reporting by the UN, external organizations, and our own mission visits.”
Fumio Yamazaki, Director, International Peace and Security Cooperation Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, discussed progress made under the Triangular Partnership Project (TPP), which was an outcome of the 2014 UN peacekeeping summit. Under TPP, supporting member states provide trainers, equipment and funds required for the training of TCC/PCCs’ uniformed personnel while the UN coordinates and manages the overall program. Mr. Yamazaki said that 40 percent of the TCC/PCCs now participated in the program. “It’s important for the TCC/PCCs to build their own capacity, and the key to success is the political decision by a TCC/PCC to use and train its forces for UN peacekeeping.”
Dawit Yirga, Director, International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, said that improving training and capacity building was very important to his country, which is a leading contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping. “We have in Ethiopia an international peacekeeping training center which fills crucial gaps in training and capacity building in Ethiopia and other African countries. We work with bilateral, regional, and international partners in this regard, particularly Japan and Indonesia, and we hope to develop the center as having a niche in organizing integrated training programs that enable us to deploy able personnel.”
Namie Di Razza, IPI Senior Fellow and Head of Protection of Civilians, moderated the discussion.