SA hosts UN course


South Africa is from today hosting the 14th United Nations Senior Mission Leaders Course (UNSMLC) for the first time. The course is taking place at the SA Peace Mission Training Centre (PMTC) at Thaba Tshwane from Monday to June 3.

The aim of the UNSMLC is to prepare potential and future mission leaders for the roles and responsibilities of senior leaders in the UN peacekeeping operations. These include future Special Representatives of the Secretary General, force commanders, police commissioners and directors of mission support. “An additional objective is to enable member state officials who cover peacekeeping issues to better understand how multidimensional UN peacekeeping missions are conducted,” the Department of Defence says in a statement.

Amongst the speakers will be South African National Defence Force Chief of Human Resources Lt. General Derrick Mgwebi and representatives from the United Nations as well as the Ambassador the Kingdom of the Netherlands to South Africa. Mgwebi was the first UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB) force commander when this force was established in June 2004.

The centre, established in late 2007 under Project Restore, boasts advanced conferencing and simulation software that allows the next generation of peace mission leaders to role-play scenarios and study lessons learned during previous peace missions. “This is a capability we had to have as a Department of Defence and as the SANDF,” Mgwebi said at the opening of the R30 million facility. SA contributed R3 million and the US, Britain and Canada the rest.

Mgwebi added that the centre followed from an analysis of lessons learned. “We came to realise there were certain aspects where we were lacking,” he told an audience, including British High Commissioner Paul Boateng and US ambassador Eric Bost. “We will be using this facility to the best of our ability to educate and train our officers in key aspects of peace support operations,” he added. Some of us here did not have [the advantage of attending] this facility before. I hope you realise how fortunate you are to have a facility like this,” Mgwebi told the centre`s first class.