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Capacity building

Two Swiss officers are currently engaged at the KAIPTC in Ghana.
Two Swiss officers are currently engaged at the KAIPTC in Ghana.

Swiss peace support personnel assist with training in Africa

The Swiss Armed Forces have been present at the Kofi Annan International Peace-Keeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra, Ghana with officers since 2006. Initial engagement with one officer was extended and today three Swiss nationals are serving in a peace support operation at the KAIPTC as head of training, evaluation and development (TED), as course director and as digital communications / website management officer. In addition to human support, the DDPS has been financing two annual courses since 2010, the DFA finances a further course. The Swiss Armed Forces’ engagement is based on Article 48a of the Swiss Military Code.

The head of TED is responsible for the following tasks:

  • manages and coordinates the monitoring and evaluation of all current courses
  • directs the development of new courses
  • coordinates all course development aspects between the research and the training departments.

A course director is responsible that all administrative and logistic course preparations are done correctly. Furthermore, he supports the head of the TED in his field.

According to Armed Forces Report 2010 one of the main emphases of the Swiss Armed Forces is on military peace support ‘through the deployment of unarmed individuals as military observers, staff officers and instructors for capacity building as part of on-location military peace support’. The goal is to provide services with military personnel at up to five different training centres in the medium term. With their engagement at the KAIPTC the Swiss Armed Forces are putting this assignment into practise. 

Since its foundation in 2003, the KAIPTC has developed into the most important training and research institution for conflict prevention and peace support in West Africa. Over the past ten years of its existence some 10,000 military professionals, policemen and civilians were prepared for multi-dimensional peace-keeping operations. And this in a variety of different areas such as conflict analysis and mediation, security sector reform, civil-military cooperation, civil protection, law of armed conflict or planning and logistics. The centre also conducts two accredited MA courses.

The centre belongs to the Armed Forces of Ghana. Most of the roughly 300 staff members are citizens of Ghana and consist of both military and civilian employees. The centre is located just outside the town of Accra in an extensive facility. Apart from offices, conference and meeting rooms, the facility has a library and a restaurant. Guest rooms are also available for course participants. Employees are housed externally on a private basis.

Since November 2019, an officer of the Swiss Armed Forces has been posted to the School of Peacekeeping Alioune Blondin Beye (École de Maintien de la Paix Alioune Blondin Beye, EMPABB) in Bamako, Mali. Civilians and members of the military and police are trained at the EMPABB to carry out multidimensional peace operations. The Swiss officer is serving on an unarmed mission as course director, and is responsible for the administration and logistics of all courses. He also teaches a number of course modules in French and/or English.

The armed forces’ commitment in Mali is based on Article 48a of the Armed Forces Act and on a decision made by the head of the DDPS on 12 February 2019. The decision allows the deployment during a two-year pilot phase of up to two members of the armed forces, and if necessary the financing of projects at the request of EMPABB.

The 2010 Armed Forces Report states that the focus of the armed forces in military peace promotion is to deploy unarmed individuals as military observers, staff officers and trainers for on-site capacity building. The aim in the medium term is for members of the armed forces to provide services at up to five different training centres. The Swiss Armed Forces are fulfilling this assignment with commitments at EMPABB in Mali and the Kofi Annan International Peace Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Ghana.

The EMPABB training centre is the only UN-recognised training centre in a French-speaking African country, and therefore the only centre of its kind that offers courses in French. Since its inception, civilians and military members from 40 African countries have taken classes at EMPABB in various subjects such as conflict analysis, mediation, security sector reform, civilian-military cooperation, the protection of civilians, the Law of Armed Conflict, and planning and logistics.

EMPABB first opened its doors at its current location in the centre of Bamako’s business district on 26 March 2007. However, EMPABB’s beginnings can be traced back much further. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) first deployed a multilateral military force known as the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) during the civil war in Liberia in 1990. The mission revealed that there was a need to better train African ECOMOG officers in peace promotion. Nine years later, the first African training centre for peace promotion was set up in Zambakro in Côte d’Ivoire. This school was run in a French-Ivorian partnership and called the School of Peacekeeping (École de Maintain de la Paix, EMP). Due to an internal crisis in September 2002, the EMP was moved to the Koulikoro region of the Republic of Mali, 60km northeast of Bamako. However, as demand for training courses increased, a facility with more accommodation was soon needed. With international financial support, a new training centre was built in Bamako.

EMPABB’s staff consists mostly of local and some international men and women with military, police and civilian backgrounds. In addition to office facilities, the training centre also has meeting and conference rooms, a library and a canteen. EMPABB also runs its own research facility, the Sahel-Saharan Analysis and Research Centre (Centre d’Analyse et de Recherche sur l’Espace Sahélo-Saharien, CARESS).