South Africa wants specialist UN training teams to up peacekeeping professionalism


As the UN prepares for the 20th commemoration of UN Peacekeepers Day on 29 May, the Security Council heard a senior South African diplomat request technical training teams be established to improve field training ahead of UN mission deployment.

South Africa’s deputy permanent representative to the world body, Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo, proposed the UN give consideration to technical training teams to present workshops at peacekeeping training institutions of both troop and police contributing countries.

He sees these teams assisting in translating UN doctrine to improve field training as well as identifying and correcting capacity gaps in force preparation ahead of deployment.

He also suggested countries contributing manpower, be it military or police, analyse intervention operations. This applies particularly to the conflict theatre and will, according to Mabhongo, “guide development of scenarios for military units and form a baseline for mission specific training”.

Another recommendation to the Security Council is to expand the reach and number of UN peacekeeping training centres in Africa and elsewhere. This will supplement activities of member states, such as South Africa with its peacekeeping mission training centre in Thaba Tshwane.

He said South Africa would also appreciate consideration being given to standardising peacekeeping doctrine between the world body and regional peacekeeping training institutions “with a view to developing a common doctrine on peacekeeping”.

As an example of South Africa’s commitment to peacekeeping, which he said was an effective UN tool for promoting and maintaining international peace and security, the ambassador told the Security Council about the South African tactical intelligence unit course. This is presented over a six week period for South African troops earmarked for continental peacekeeping and peace support missions. Soldiers from Malawi and Tanzania, South Africa’s partners in the UN Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) also attend these courses ahead of deployment to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“This course seeks to ensure a common operational picture and solidify operational effectiveness,” he said.

South Africa’s contribution to effective peacekeeping also sees additional in-mission training to reinvigorate situational awareness and mission readiness, with particular emphasis on command and control. In-mission training is also given on protection of civilians, human rights and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA).