Major UN technology for peacekeeping symposium coming to SA


South Africa will host the sixth UN International Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping symposium in June – the first time this UN event has been staged in Africa.

According to the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), the symposium “contributes to improving the continent toward conflict prevention, peacekeeping, security and post-conflict reconstruction and development”. This year’s event will focus on solutions making use of technologies and concepts in particularly UN-led field missions.

There are currently 13 peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the world body’s Department of Peace Operations with seven on the African continent including MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the largest UN mission and the only one to deploy a Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) with an offensive peacekeeping mandate to protect civilians.

Other African missions are MINURSO in Western Sahara, MINUSCA in the Central African Republic (CAR), MINUSMA in Mali, UNAMID in Darfur, UNSFA in Abyei, Sudan, and UNMISS in South Sudan.

South Africa, which took over chairmanship of the African Union earlier this year, will host another important gathering as regards continental peacekeeping a month ahead of the UN peacekeeping technology symposium. An AU extraordinary summit titled “Silencing the Guns” is set to take place in May as part of the AU Agenda 2063.

The May gathering, for which a venue has also not yet been announced, comes on the heels on a report indicating the AU will not finance security operations from a new fund until 2023 because it received fewer contributions than expected.

The continental body planned to start using the fund this year for peacekeeping missions, mediation and conflict prevention. At the end of an AU summit in Addis Ababa earlier this month it was revealed less than half the targeted $400 million was pledged. An amount of $164 million has been pledged.

According to the UN Department of Operational Support, aligning technological and innovative capacities with the specific needs of UN field missions has the capability of bringing transformation and better efficiencies to the missions.

“Applying novel approaches to global peace operations can help peacekeepers make faster and more informed decisions, better protect civilians and uniformed personnel by keeping them connected and improve readiness of military communications officers prior to deployment in a peacekeeping environment,” the department said.

“The Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping initiative offers member states an opportunity for a new type of relationship with DPKO-DFS beyond the traditional troop, police and financial contributions—one that aligns technological and innovative capacities of the world with the specific needs of the field technology sections in the field missions.

“The symposium is at the core of the initiative and is the only information-sharing conference on field technology organised for the peacekeeping community,” the department said.

This gives added value to GCIS’ assertion that South Africa “will be able to promote its locally developed technology products and the country’s defence industrial capabilities” at and during the event, for which no venue has yet been given.