Defence Minister Thandi Modise at the UN peacekeeping technology symposium exhibition.South Africa, specifically Pretoria, last month hosted the premier United Nations (UN) event on the use of technology as a force multiplier and additional safety level in peacekeeping operations.
Feedback from a senior staffer involved in the sixth International UN Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping Symposium is that the four day gathering at the CSIR International Convention Centre was the largest hosted by the world body to date.
Three hundred and twenty-two delegates from 43 UN member states, including 23 from Africa, were present. “The number of member states may change slightly [as] reconciliation of UN registration records with host nation (South Africa) registration records is not yet complete,” UN Operations Support Division (OSD) project manager, Dalibor Petrovic from the world body’s Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT) told defenceWeb.
There were 17 presenters in the plenary, representing the UN Secretariat, academia, think-tanks and the host nation. Presenters elaborated on current challenges in peace operations and how technology can help address them. Six speakers were from South Africa, five from Armscor and/or the CSIR, with one from Hensoldt.
Two hundred and fifty-one delegates took part in discussions in thematic working groups on the five symposium themes. The themes were protecting peacekeepers, information-driven peace operations, integrated training and capacity building, eco-responsibility and telemedicine. A number of participating member states committed to engage with the UN and provide additional support to peace operations.
The event was closed by the Under Secretary General for Operational Support Atul Khare and South African Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise. Part of the closing ceremony saw Modise hand the symbolic symposium plaque to Babu Ram Adhikari, Joint Secretary of the Nepalese Ministry of Defence and that country’s representative at the Pretoria symposium. Nepal will host peacekeeping technology symposium number seven next year.
Alongside the symposium, the South African defence industry attended a co-hosted exhibition and UN delegates took part in aUN Procurement Summit, which attracted around 100 interested delegates, who were told what the UN is looking to acquire and how to bid.