UNPOCC gathered military, civilian and police personnel to learn about the protection of civilians

The United Nations Protection of Civilians Course (UNPOCC) was successfully conducted at SWEDINT 26 -30 JAN 2015. The Protection of Civilians (POC) is one of today’s most important crosscutting themes in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Training of different peacekeeping actors is needed for them to be able to protect civilians in an efficient manner on missions and for the actors to know their responsibilities.

There were 39 students from 16 different countries at the course. During the course week the students gained knowledge of topics such as child protection, POC planning process, legal frameworks, communication and conflict-related sexual violence.  The course relied heavily on the interaction of the students. The discussions were lively, as students with police, military and civilian background worked together in syndicates sharing their experiences and expertise. It is important for the students to learn to challenge their own ways of thinking and acting in order for them to be able to work better in the field together.

One of the students of the course was Irene Limo, who works as the Senior Programme Officer at the Peacekeeping Unit within the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) in South Africa.

 “Most UN peacekeeping operations have a POC mandate, thus this course is the key in contributing to success of the implementation of these mandates. The course content, approach and learning in the syndicates and plenary discussions reflected comprehensiveness which was supported by experiences from the field”, said Limo.

She also valued highly the opportunity to work with people with different professional backgrounds and different mission components: “The participation of civilians, police and military in the course ensured further understanding on multidimensionality as well as further understanding and appreciation of the concept of an integrated approach in the UN missions.”

The Protection of Civilians is not a question of standards and check lists: peacekeeping operation personnel who are well-trained and aware of what protection of civilians can mean for the work of different actors means better outcomes can be achieved. FINCENT organized the first Protection of Civilians course in autumn 2014 and this was the first time the course was organized outside FINCENT. The Finnish team of instructors was supported by SWEDINT, the Civilian Crisis Management Centre Finland and Denmark. Conducting the course at SWEDINT was a good example of the excellent cooperation between the Nordefco training centers.

The next UNPOCC will be organized at FINCENT in 2016. Dates and information about the application process will be announced later this year.