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Capacity building

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.

The Swiss Armed Forces currently have one officer on secondment at the School of Peacekeeping Alioune Blondin Beye (École de Maintien de la Paix Alioune Blondin Beye, EMP-ABB) in Bamako, Mali. Members of the military and police as well as civilians receive training at the EMP-ABB to carry out multidimensional peace operations. The first Swiss officer began serving
on an unarmed mission as an instructor at the centre in November 2019. In
August 2020, an additional officer was seconded for the duration of two years; as Directeur des Stages par Interim. In this function, he coordinated
all activities and prepared all of the school’s courses. Following a rotation
of personnel in November 2020, the position of instructor was replaced with that of head of IT. The head of IT is responsible for maintaining the digital infrastructure and expanding the LMS. The duties of the officers deployed to the EMP-ABB are largely based on professional competencies, mission experience and the needs of the school. 

On 12 February 2019, Head of the DDPS Viola Amherd approved a request to deploy up to two members of the Armed Forces to EMP-ABB in a two-year pilot programme. Following an evaluation by International Relations Defence, she extended the pilot programme by one year in December 2021, adding a mandate to clarify governance issues by autumn 2022. 

On 20 October 2022, Ms Amherd tasked the Defence Group with negotiating a bilateral training agreement to support EMP-ABB in Bamako in accordance with Art. 48a of the Military Act. The Armed Forces will continue the pilot programme in its current form until the training agreement enters into force. 

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 EMP-ABB in Mali and the Kofi Annan International Peace Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Ghana. 

The EMP-ABB 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, military, police and civilian members from 40 African countries have taken classes at EMP-ABB in various subjects such as mediation, security sector reform, conflict analysis, civilian-military cooperation, the protection of civilians, the Law of Armed Conflict, gender equality and planning and logistics. EMP-ABB also offers a Master’s programme. 

EMP-ABB first opened its doors at its current location in the centre of Bamako’s business district on 26 March 2007. However, EMP-ABB’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 courses increased, a facility with more accommodation was soon needed. With international financial support, a new training centre was built in Bamako. 

In addition to training, office and accommodation facilities, the training centre also has meeting and conference rooms, a library and a canteen. EMP-ABB 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). EMP-ABB’s staff consists mostly of local and some international men and women with military, police and civilian backgrounds.

Since October 2022, the Swiss Armed Forces have been involved at the International Peace Support Training Centre (IPSTC) in Nairobi, Kenia, again with one officer serving as Head of Training. In February 2023 a second officer joined as Head of E-Learning. Already between August 2014 and January 2020 up to two officers were on location. Such human support of the IPSTC is based on the article 48a of the Swiss military code. 

The Head of Training has the following duties:

  • Supervision, management and development of training;
  • Daily management of training issues;
  • Coordination with the Curriculum Design Department to ensure training is relevant and up dated;
  • Coordination between the schools and departments to ensure that the training is conducted in accordance with the centre’s standards.

According to the 2010 Armed Forces Report one of the main emphases of the Swiss Armed Forces is to promote peace ‘through the deployment of unarmed individuals to military peace support on location as military observers, staff officers and trainers for capacity building’. The goal is to provide support with military personnel at up to five different training centres in the medium term. With their anew engagement at the IPSTC the Swiss Armed Forces are now supporting three training centres. Already since 2006, Swiss officers have been serving in various functions at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra, Ghana, as well as since November 2019 at the École de Maintien de la Paix Alioune Blondin Beye (EMPABB) in Bamako, Mali. 

The IPSTC enjoys a good reputation both regionally and internationally. Regional cooperation with African countries and organisations is close. Internationally the IPSTC cooperates with the UN, the African Union (AU) and its regional organisations along with Western partner countries (above all the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Germany and Japan). Many African and Western countries too make use of the course programme to train their military personnel for UN operations in Africa. Financially the training centre is based on a solid foundation. 

The centre has an excellent infrastructure, which makes it possible to train up to 500 persons simultaneously. It also includes an amply designed training village making it possible to portray a variety of situations in their real dimensions. The staff members of the IPSTC are mainly provided by the Kenyan Armed Forces.