28 November 2014, Montreux, Switzerland - As part of a three-year partnership between the Institute for Diplomacy and International Relations (IDRI) of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), a retreat focused on “Peacekeeping and Security within the United Nations System” was organized along the picturesque shores of Lac Léman in Montreux from 11 – 14 November 2014.
What is the role of the United Nations in international conflicts? Bringing together experts from legal, diplomatic, operational, and military backgrounds, ten diplomats from Algeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs gained insight and shared practical experience to find answers to this pressing question.
Spanning four days, this workshop sought to strike a balance in the combination of theoretical and practical sessions. Participants agreed with this approach, saying: “This workshop has been of great benefit, as much on the theoretical side as on the practical side.”
Led by Ms. Leila Benkirane, the workshop began with an introduction to how the UN has defined its role in international peace and security. Ms. Benkirane spoke of her 20 years of experience working within the UN’s Office of Legal Affairs, and leveraged this legal perspective to provide participants with an overview of the UN’s institutional mandate with respect to international security.
Also during the first day, Professor Alain Jacques Sigg shared his wealth of experience in preventative diplomacy and mediation, notably with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Africa), and the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, among many others. Professor Sigg spoke extensively of his own first-hand experience, lending credence to the idea that the international community can often play a very real role in preventing and mediating conflicts around the world.
On the second day, HE Alain Le Roy – former Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and former Deputy Special Coordinator of the Secretary-General in Sarajevo – provided an overview of the DPKO. Mr. Le Roy spoke of the operational side of peacekeeping work, including financing, military contributions, and cooperation between the UN and regional organizations. Mr. Le Roy then guided participants to examine several past and ongoing peacekeeping operations, bringing to life their newfound appreciation for the work of the DPKO.
The final two days were facilitated by General Yves de Kermabon (a former général de corps d’armée with the French Army who has served in numerous UN and NATO peacekeeping operations) along with Mr. Frédéric Jouhaud (former Lieutenant Colonel with the French Army and operational expert) and Mr. Raphaël Pouyé (an independent researcher with over 10 years experience in post-conflict reconstruction missions). The three experts began by sharing their experience, collected across dozens of operations altogether, to better understand how coordination between institutions takes place in the field. Also discussed was how civil and military leaders interact during these operations.
For the remainder of the workshop, the three experts guided the participants through a variety of challenging simulation exercises driven by the concept of action learning (i.e. “learning by doing”). These exercises included the drafting of a UN Security Council resolution, the development of a mission strategy, and an evaluation of the political aspects of a mission – including managing relations with the host country.
Members of the Algerian delegation provided remarkably positive comments at the end of the training session, stressing the high degree of the training quality and the trainers’ approach to knowledge and skills transfer. Following the workshop, 100% of participants reported that not only would they recommend the training to others, but they feel that it is very likely that they will make use of the knowledge they have gained.
At the core of the collaboration between IDRI and UNITAR is a common commitment to providing training that inspires participants to want to use the capacities they have developed during our learning activities. Therefore, the success of this retreat represents an important step in the ongoing realization of the goals of this enduring partnership.
Photo: participants of the retreat