Since 2008, USIP’s Academy has trained more than five thousand peacekeepers in core conflict management skills of conflict analysis, negotiation, mediation, and the protection of civilians. Based on interviews with returned peacekeepers trained by USIP, community members in mission areas, and trainers, this report assesses the relevance and effectiveness of this training program—and offers key recommendations to improve the content, design, and delivery of conflict management training more broadly. 

Summary

  • USIP’s Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding has conducted conflict management training for peacekeepers since 2008. In 2014 the Academy began an assessment of this training to determine its relevance and effectiveness.
  • The assessment reveals that USIP’s training on communication, negotiation, and mediation is relevant to the needs of peacekeepers and helps them defuse conflicts in mission. In dealings with the civilian population, peacekeepers recognize the intersection between communication, respect, and cultural understanding.
  • Peacekeepers see negotiation skills as key to effective peacekeeping. They use these skills in a range of contexts, including with the local population, with parties to the conflict, and within their battalion; and they often continue to use negotiation skills in personal and professional contexts when they return home.
  • Community members seek a better understanding of peacekeepers’ mission and more constructive engagement with peacekeepers.
  • To engage with communities, peacekeepers must develop a mindset that is conducive to problem solving, as well as relevant knowledge, skills, and attitudes, during their pre-deployment training.
  • Peacekeepers’ performance in protecting civilians is inconsistent.
  • The UN’s ambiguous language around sexual exploitation and abuse creates confusion for peacekeepers and poses challenges to compliance.
  • Peacekeepers benefit from the practical exercises, role plays, and simulations included in their training, which give them plenty of opportunity to apply skills. In general, a participant-centered approach whose focus is not primarily military adds value to pre-deployment training.

About the Report

This report examines the role of conflict management training in preparing peacekeepers for United Nations/African Union missions through an assessment of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) Conflict Management Training for Peacekeepers program. The assessment relies on data collected through 137 semistructured interviews with returned peacekeepers trained by USIP, with community members in mission areas where peacekeepers were deployed, and with pre-deployment trainers. The report discusses findings, and offers recommendations for USIP’s training for peacekeepers as well as for broader peacekeeping policy and practice.

About the Authors

Alison Milofsky is Director of Curriculum and Training Design in USIP’s Center for Applied Conflict Transformation (ACT); she oversees USIP’s Conflict Management Training for Peacekeepers program. Joseph Sany is a consultant for USIP. Illana Lancaster is a Senior Program Officer in ACT. Jeff Krentel is a Program Officer in ACT.

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