Report on Burundi peacekeeping & peace-building training workshop

News and Press Release
Originally published
The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) is a civil society initiative, based in South Africa, specialising in the field of conflict prevention, resolution and management on the African continent. Amongst its programmes is a Peacekeeping Programme working in the field of peacekeeping capacity building in the southern African sub-region. The focus of the programme is on civilian components of peacekeeping with special emphasis on conflict management and civil-military co-operation.
The Peacekeeping Programme conducted a Peacekeeping and Peace-building Training Workshop in Bujumbura, Burundi, from 24-28 February 2003 as part of the organisation's ongoing intervention in, and contribution to, the peace process in Burundi. It proved to occur at an significant time in the peace process as a partial cease-fire had just been signed and it was run immediately before the African Union military observers were deployed in the country, as well as before the African Union peacekeepers arrived. The workshop was similar to a series of in-country familiarisation peacekeeping workshops ACCORD has conducted in eleven of the fourteen SADC countries since 1996. However, the progress made with the peace process in Burundi created a unique opportunity for the workshop to be conducted before the peacekeeping mission is deployed. As such, the Peacekeeping Workshop was focused on preparing a broad cross-section of stakeholders within Burundi for hosting an African Union (AU), and perhaps later a United Nations, peacekeeping mission.

The objectives of the workshop were as follows:

  • to cultivate an understanding of the peacekeeping challenges and adaptation of peace-building strategies for future challenges in Burundi;

  • to emphasize the importance of multi-sectoral approaches in on-going peace process;

  • to encourage an understanding and acceptance of partnership between local players and international efforts to bring lasting peace;

  • to give participants an opportunity to prepare liaison officers to work alongside the peacekeeping mission when it is deployed.
Thirty-six participants attended the workshop. Participants included members of parliament, representatives from political parties, journalists, media, civil society representatives and members of faith-based organisations.

The invited resource persons to the workshop had a range of experience in military peacekeeping, humanitarian relief work, and sub-regional peacemaking, and were chosen to specifically address generic peacekeeping issues and identify lessons that have been learned from past peacekeeping experiences that could be applied to Burundi.

We were fortunate to secure Ambassador Bah, the AU representative in Burundi, as our key speaker for the Official Opening Address. Modules during the workshop consisted of:

  • an introduction to conflict management and peacekeeping terms,

  • an introduction to the history, development and establishment of peace support operations,

  • elements and role players in peacekeeping,

  • the organisational framework of the African union mission in Burundi,

  • general conduct of peacekeepers,

  • human rights and humanitarian issues, civil-military co-ordination and;

  • peace building challenges.
The ACCORD delegation facilitated a "Burundi Blue Skies" exercise on the last day where participants envisioned what Burundi could, and should look like in the future and made recommendations on how to achieve it. This exercise was conducted during the CNDD-FDD training last year, and proved to be very successful.

In evaluating the success of the workshop, it was evident that participants had gained a good understanding of how the future peacekeeping mission can support the larger peace process in Burundi and how the different components of a peacekeeping mission (political, humanitarian, military, police, etc.) work together to support the implementation of a peace agreement. They also had a clearer sense of the role of the future mission and what its mandate entails. In this respect then, our objective to impart information and cultivate understanding about peacekeeping operations and the necessary co-ordination between the various actors, was achieved.