Update on our pilot project in CAR

Update on our pilot project in CAR

Beyond peace will be soon completing its pilot project in Central Africa, aiming at training the Central African Armed forces (FACA) on International humanitarian law (IHL) and prevention of sexual violence. The project is implemented through a partnership with the EU training mission(EUTM) in CAR with the support of UK government. Time has come to start reflecting on our work and what comes next.

Five months in the deployment, we have successfully designed and established the component and we have trained some 800 personnel: 1 infantry battalion, Officers on Leadership courses, NCOs, specialised staff (platoon Commander course; Intel course; CAT 2 course); former insurgents and instructors.

Our training is based on a contextual analysis and it is tailored to the audience and to the operational, legal and cultural context. It utilises a comprehensive methodology: lectures, questions/answers sessions, group work, videos, dialogue and exchanges. The rules learnt through this interactive methodology are then practiced during combined tactical exercises. Progress is measured through the completion of a questionnaire, before and after the training.

Below are some of the stories and the people behind this training project.

  1. Infantry Battalion

Photo: joint checkpoint exercise where the FACA learn about securing and respecting human rights

We have trained the 2 Companies of Infantry Battalion 1, currently trained by the EUTM. In addition to classroom sessions, group work and “sandbox” exercises, we were able to introduce a new tool through joint, IHL-military tactical exercises. All 4 Companies of BIT 1 participated in the exercise. We held briefing sessions with the Battalion Officers and the General Staff.

At the question “what did you learn from this training?”, a Corporal answers: “we are learning the difference between a professional military and bandits”.

Photo: MPCC Director LGen Pulkkinen visits our class in Camp Kasai

“Your tactical exercises are adapted to our realities. You know our dilemmas and you are really here to support us”, says a Sergeant.

 

2. The former insurgents

Beyond peace is contributing to the training of 100 former insurgents who have joined the Central African Armed forces (FACA) as part of the Demobilization, Disarmament, Rehabilitation and Repatriation (DDRR) project. This initiative from the President and the armed groups, endorsed by the international community, provides a sign of hope and dialogue across the conflict divide.

We worked first, in October, with the 10 Officers and NCOs in charge of supervising the new recruits. In November, we started training the team of 100, with their support.

Photo: Movie session with the 100 DDRR former insurgents, December 2017

The former insurgents come form various rebel groups; they belong to different religious backgrounds; about 10% are female. They display an incredible willingness to learn and to amend their lives. This morning, I was showing videos about conflict-related sexual violence, in CAR and in other countries. One of them raised their hand: “We have our share in what happened, he said. But now that we are being educated and we understand our duties, we will not do it anymore. We will protect women against this crime. We will report abuse.”

As for the other members of the armed forces, the course looks at the basic principles of IHL (such as: distinction, proportionality, precaution); the protected persons and sites; the need to protect and respect women; the prohibition of torture, arson, pillage, rape; the treatment of prisoners; the roles of duties of military and criminal and military sanction processes.

 

3. Educating Officers

We contributed to the 2 Leadership training courses organised this semester by the Central African MOD in partnership with the EUTM. Some 65 Lieutenants educated abroad benefitted from these courses and learnt and shared about their duties and responsibilities as FACA. “We learnt that we cannot rape. We never knew that”, said of the Officers.

“We learnt that when an operation is likely to result in failure and in a massacre, we should postpone it and better prepare it”, said another Lieutenant. “I had never thought of that”.

Group photo for the Graduation of 2nd Leadership course for Officers, November 2017

 

4. Platoon Commanders Course

Photo: BA2 Platoon Commander course participants receive their uniform shoulder loops

We co-facilitated this 12-week course together with Lieutenant Zandanga from the FACA. It was a wonderful experience and a privilege to work along such a skilled and committed instructor.

“We love this course because of its unique methodology. We learnt a lot and it’s fun”, said one participant.

 

5. Train the trainers

As much as this pilot project is successful, it has its limitations because it is a private initiative, limited in time. In order to ensure some degree of sustainability to our project, and in recognition of the great capacities and cooperation from the Central African military, we have trained 8 new IHL/PSV instructors. We benefitted from the outstanding support from UN OCHA and from the FACA through Lieutenant Zandanga for this activity.

 

Photo: Lieutenants Dikossou and Lapo delivering a training on Protection of women and prevention of sexual violence: “women are the pillars of society; we, military, have to protect them”.

We can certify that these instructors are competent and committed and we wish them all the best in their new assignments as instructors.

6. What next?

The Minister of Defense Ms Koyara granted us a private audience to underline the importance of this project: “Our military need to improve their behaviour to be deployed”.

This pilot project was made possible thanks to the endorsement from the highest CAR authorities and support from the UK Government. Should the EU systematise such components in future CSDP missions? What would be needed? We will be holding a series of meetings early in the new year in order to share ideas and findings to this effect. Contact us if you would like to participate – or to host such a meeting.

DDRR: Beyond peace training former rebels and FACA cadres

DDRR: Beyond peace training former rebels and FACA cadres

Beyond peace was invited by the Central African Ministry of Defense and the EU training mission in CAR (EUTM) to contribute to the training of 60 former combatants who will be integrated in the armed forces as well as their 10 FACA supervisors, in the context of the Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilitation and Repatriation (DDRR) pilot.

A class with the 10 Officers and NCOs who will be supervising the former Non-State Armed Groups combatants, focusing on leadership, command responsability and respect for IHL

In addition to the DDRR pilot, Beyond peace is continuing its training activities for the 1st Battalion (3rd Company and Fire support platoons) soldiers, NCOs and Officers and for selected Officers and Officers of other units.

Photo: A Lieutenant participating in the Leadership Seminar for Young Lieutenants demonstrating how his platoons will perform a tactical operation respecting IHL.

 

Photo: The 43 Young Lieutenants on their graduation ceremony

With the NCOS participating in the special training for future platoon Commanders

In November, Beyond peace will start implementing Train the Trainers activities in order to build the training capacities of the FACA on IHL.

First class at Camp Kasai

First class at Camp Kasai

Beyond peace started today its training on IHL and prevention of sexual violence for the Central African armed forces (FACA) on behalf of EUTM, the EU training mission in CAR.

Over 30 Officers from BIT 1 received a first instruction, as well as 41 NCOs from other units.

Based in Bangui and deployed upon the request of the Transition President, the EUTM RCA is contributing to rebuilding a modernised, effective, inclusive and democratically accountable Central African Armed Forces (FACA). It provides strategic advice to the Central African Republic’s Ministry of Defence and the general staff, as well as education to officers and non-commissioned officers, and training to the FACA.

Beyond peace established a partnership with the mission, with the approval of the EU External Action service and with the support of UK Government. The objective is to integrate the training component on behaviour into all training delivered by the EUTM for the FACA over a 6-month pilot period. Our Director Cynthia Petrigh arrived in Bangui on 7 July 2017 to design and develop the programme; she will be joined by other experienced trainers.

Advising on Op Trenton Mission Rehearsal Exercise

Advising on Op Trenton Mission Rehearsal Exercise

Beyond peace was invited to advise the Op Trenton military pre-deployment exercise for the UK Engineers troops departing to South-Sudan Malakal and Bentiu where they will join the UNMISS.

Cynthia Petrigh from Beyond peace has been involved in this beautiful adventure since 2016, where she contributed to the training of first batch deploying to South Sudan.

After meeting Commander LCol Hislop in Yorkshire in March, she has just just contributed to the Mission Rehearsal Exercise which took place 29 May – 3 June in Norfolk, UK, for the batch to deploy as of July 2017.

We wish good luck for this new batch and keep the good job!

Roundtable in Sanremo’s Institute of International Humanitarian Law

Roundtable in Sanremo’s Institute of International Humanitarian Law

The annual roundtable in Sanremo’s Institute of International Humanitarian Law discussed this year « The Conduct of Hostilities ». Cynthia Petrigh presented the topic of ‘Training and political guidance as a comprehensive approach towards improving operational decisions and ROE’. For more on the 2014 round-table : http://www.iihl.org/round-table-on-conduct-of-hostilities-the-practice-the-law-and-the-future-2

DAY 1 (144) Reception_small

 

DAY 1 (170) sanremo

DAY 1 (146) Day 1_small

Speaking at the London ESVI Summit

Speaking at the London ESVI Summit

Beyond (peace) Cynthia Petrigh was invited to speak about prevention of sexual violence at an expert’s panel during the International Summit on Ending Sexual violence in London last June. This meeting was an opportunity for Foreign Secretary William Hague to highlight her work.