Photo: China Peacekeeping Centre
Major Bengt Åke Folkeson was one of the international instructors. Photo: Bengt Åke Folkeson, SWEDINT/NCGM
All in all participants from 22 nations were involved during the two weeks. Photo: China Peacekeeping Centre

For the very first time, a UN Staff Officers Course with international participants has been held in China. In November officers from 16 countries spent two weeks together at the Chinese Peacekeeping Centre in Beijing, being taught by international instructors. Counting the instructors, the course gathered 22 different nationalities. One of them was Major Bengt Åke Folkeson from SWEDINT/NCGM who oversaw the implementation of the course.

“It all went very well. I had to modify the course a bit to put a bit more focus on the planning process, but otherwise the only problem was tuning our ears to the many different English accents among us”, says Maj Folkeson.

The UNSOC and the UN Planning Process prepares participants for taking on various staff officer assignments in UN multinational headquarters or in national contingents, conducting Peace Support Operations on Brigade/Sector or Division/Force Headquarters level.

The course included the UN Military Component Planning Process and the UN INSTEX, where both a UN Force HQ and a Sector HQ were manned by the participants, among them ten Chinese officers already selected for service at various UN missions abroad.

The Chinese Peacekeeping Centre plans to further develop the UNSOC course to contain the new UN Staff Officer Specialist Training Material that UNDPKO will release during 2017, and subsequently run a next international UNSOC late 2017.

“The Centre has expressed a wish for us at SWEDINT/NCGM to be involved then as well, and we will look at that”, says Maj Folkeson. “In my opinion it would be a good idea to extend the course to three weeks. We do it over a three-week period at SWEDINT/NCGM and I think an additional week would allow for a bit more depth. But all in all, I think this first international UNSOC in China was a clear success.”