5 August 2013, Kaduna State, Nigeria - UNITAR and the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Training Centre(NAPKC) have conducted a successful advanced level Training Course on the “Protection of Civilians in UN Peacekeeping Operations” from 22 July – 02 August 2013 in the partner institution’s premises in Jaji, Kaduna State, Nigeria.

The training serves as part of UNITAR’s Enhancing Capacity in Africa Project that recognizes the increasingly challenging role played by African countries in peace operations. The project is focused on building synergies with African regional and national peacekeeping training institutions by providing peacekeeping training through collaborative and coordinated endeavours and to enhance the capacity of future peacekeepers prior to their deployment in a cost effective manner. This approach is in line with the effort of the United Nations to put the protection of civilians at the center of the Peace and Security agenda. In his speech “Mandated to Protect”, the Secretary General highlighted that “the United Nations is determined to use every available tool to protect vulnerable populations. This requires resources, training and new thinking.”

The training was monitored by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations – Integrated Training Service’s(DPKO/ITS) Colonel Asif Chaudhrf, who attended as a training observer following the entire training course and monitoring the course delivery. The protection of civilians course offered in parallel by both UNITAR and DPKO/ITS, has undergone tremendous improvements in its content. The course is to be merged as a single module that will continue to be delivered by both UNITAR and DPKO/ITS.

The aim of the training course was to enhance the understanding of the principles and procedures involved in the protection of civilians in peace operations. Trainers delivered lectures mixed with presentations, group discussions, and – most appreciated by participants – scenario-based exercises. The exercises, backed up by informative lectures, clarified the requirements of protection of civilians’ mandates and rules of engagement and cast light on effective, legitimate and innovative ways to implement these directives. 

During delivery of the course, the documentary film “Mandated to Protect: Protection of Civilians in Peace Operations”, produced by UNITAR with the Australian Civil-Military Centre, formerly known as the Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence, was used as a training tool and significantly contributed to clarifying a number of complex challenges related to the Protection of Civilians in peace operations.

The course drew on UNITAR’s and DPKO/ITS’ highly interactive protection of civilians training material. In the evaluation, participants explained that they had benefited hugely from the realistic scenario-based exercises skillfully run by the trainers. At the end of the training they were more confident and prepared for the challenges and expectations to protect civilians in the African conflict and post-conflict settings.

Participants included 25 Nigerian military, police officers and civilians about to be deployed in the UN, AU and ECOWAS missions in Guinea-Bissau, Darfur Sudan, South Sudan and the DRC.