Peacekeeping personnel sent to conflict hot spots across the continent will now be able to take time to assess the situation in the civilian’s context before engaging anyone during riots.
This comes after at least 23 military, police and civilian officers from Uganda, Somalia, Sudan, Comoros, Kenya and host Rwanda were equipped with contextual and tactical methods of civilian protection.
The “United Nations Protection of Civilians Course” that started on 29 October, 2017 successfully ended this November 3rd.
The purpose of course was to familiarise peacekeeping personnel with specialised training materials on protection of civilians especially in current conflict countries like DR Congo, South Sudan, Mali, and the Central African Republic (CAR).
Col. Jill Rutaremara, Director of the Rwanda Peace Academy who officially opened and closed the course said that the training was necessary for the personnel to understand the nature of conflict in order to succeed in peace missions.
“Peacekeeping can be successful if personnel makes interests of civilians a priority. This means understanding the lifestyle, culture in order to protect civilians during a mission,” Rutaremara said.
Rutaremara also said that in order for peacekeeping personnel’s capabilities to be effectively and efficiently employed, the various actors in a peace mission must understand their own capabilities and those of their counterparts.
“They must exercise integrated planning and analysis. Collaboration, coordination, communication, information collection and sharing are key ingredients to successful implementation of Protection of Civilians mandate,” he said.
The trainees discussed in detail the 18 declarations in the Kigali Principles on Protection of Civilians, Kigali, Rwanda 28-29 May 2015).
Some of the trainees said that the course was an eye opener in using the intellect instead of brutal force during intervention.
“Rwanda remains a good example for all of us in the way we deal with civilians in conflict zones. Sometimes taking the extra step of dialogue and supporting civilians in their needs can impact on the situation as seen from Rwanda’s experience,” said Lt. Col Ahmed Zein Elabden (Sudan).
United Nations Protection of Civilians Course is the second course of its kind to be conducted in Rwanda. The earlier group training in December 2015 was composed of 32 military, police and civilian personnel from the same countries.
The course was organised in partnership between the Rwanda Peace Academy, the Nordic Defense Cooperation and the Eastern Africa Standby Force.
In May 2015, the Government of Rwanda hosted an international conference on the protection of civilians.
The major outcome of the conference was the Kigali Principles on Protection of Civilians, which have been voluntarily endorsed by a number of countries.