United Nations (UNUnited Nations)

Training for UNUnited Nations Missions

Training for UNUnited Nations Missions

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The United Nations (UNUnited Nations) is the central actor in international crisis and conflict management. In this respect, it is particularly well known for its peacekeeping operations, also called ‘blue helmet missions’. At the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, staff officers and civilian leadership personnel are trained for these peacekeeping operations.

Military and civilian course participants are looking at a map

During the map exercise, all participants contribute to the planning process and then present their results to the group

Bundeswehr/Christian Gelhausen

The core element of this training is the United Nations Staff Officers Course (UNSOC) in Hamburg, which is held three times a year. During this three-week course, staff officers and civilian leadership personnel from all over the world are prepared for staff assignments in UNUnited Nations headquarters. They learn about the specific challenges of UNUnited Nations peacekeeping missions and about the wide range of organisations and departments within the United Nations. 

The UNSOC is characterised by a unique spectrum of military, political, police-related, humanitarian and legal topics that are discussed with the course participants and facilitated by experienced and often high-ranking civilian and military lecturers and guest lecturers from Germany and abroad. 

‘The increase in knowledge is enormous!’

This is how Colonel (GSGesetzliche Schutzaufgaben) Axel Jancke, former head of the United Nations/European Union section at the responsible Faculty, describes the steep learning curve experienced by all course participants.

Three uniformed course participants discussing course contents

Discussions during group work are an important part of the course

Bundeswehr/Katharina Roggmann

Who can attend the course?

What makes this course so special is the fact that it is attended by people from very diverse backgrounds. Aside from Bundeswehr officers, civilian leadership personnel from the FMoD, the police and other governmental and nongovernmental organisations take part in the UNSOC. In addition to that, staff officers of foreign armed forces can participate in the course within the scope of training assistance. Participants do not necessarily have to be earmarked for a specific UNUnited Nations mission. Nevertheless, an upcoming assignment is often the reason for participation.

What topics are covered during the course?

Diversity is not only an apt description for the participants of the course but also with regard to its contents. The training spectrum ranges from the political-strategic level at the UNUnited Nations Headquarters in New York to the operational and tactical levels in mission countries, taking the multitude of local civilian actors and civil-military cooperation into consideration. The training focuses particularly on the tactical level of armed forces deployed on a mission. After a two-week input phase, the course participants are required to put their newly acquired knowledge into practice by taking part in a map exercise of several days. In a team, they have to solve typical problems of a fictional UNUnited Nations mission.

Colonel (GS) Jancke is looking into the camera
Colonel (GSGesetzliche Schutzaufgaben) Jancke Bundeswehr/Katharina Roggmann
‘In this course, participants learn a great deal in a very short time! To see this is highly satisfying for everyone, also for our teaching staff. Furthermore, the course enables participants to develop an appropriate expectation management with regard to UNUnited Nations missions.’

Who are the lecturers?

‘People with a wealth of experience from UNUnited Nations missions. Knowledge taken from practice for use in practice! Our lecturers and guest lecturers are top experts and absolutely diverse as to their backgrounds,’ says Colonel (GSGesetzliche Schutzaufgaben) Jancke with pride. For instance, the College is fortunate to have secured three former heads of UNUnited Nations peacekeeping operations as guest lecturers, among them Martin Kobler. In addition, lectures are given by a variety of civilian lecturers from international governmental and nongovernmental organisations and from the Federal Foreign Office. All lecturers of the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College teaching on this course are experienced staff and general staff officers who have served on several UNUnited Nations missions, in assignments at the UNUnited Nations Headquarters or with Germany’s Permanent Mission to the UNUnited Nations in New York. Moreover, guest lecturers employed in missions abroad regularly give online lectures directly from their mission countries. And last but not least, course participants, civilian leadership personnel among them, share their own mission experiences as well – such as Sandra Schuckmann-Honsel from the German Welthungerhilfe aid agency, who not long ago was a participant on the UNSOC and who has now become a guest lecturer reporting live from South Sudan.

A soldier from Pakistan sitting at a table and taking a look at several documents

During the map exercise, a Pakistani course participant prepares for his briefing

Bundeswehr/Katharina Roggmann

At the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, UNUnited Nations training is not only provided during the UNSOC. UNUnited Nations training also forms part of the two-year National and one-year International General/Admiral Staff Officer Course, where specific target groups are addressed in UNUnited Nations-related seminars of several weeks.

by Ines Blandau  email

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