Specialized training: a requirement for the peace and humanitarian work professional

Jordi Capdevila
Director of International Peace Resource Center, Barcelona
Jordi Capdevila

Jordi Capdevila

"There will be no development without security and no security without development. And both development and security also depend on respect for human rights." Those words, spoken by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the organization's sixtieth anniversary, summarize the complexity of modern conflicts and humanitarian crises and the need for a multidisciplinary approach in order to find appropriate solutions and construct a lasting peace. In a world in which nearly half the countries that emerge from a war return to violence within five years, in which the UN has the most missions in the field in its history, and in which complex humanitarian emergencies occur one after the other, the need for qualified civilian personnel is therefore more urgent than ever.

The International Peace Resource Center (CRIPB - in Montjuïc Castle is an initiative by Barcelona City Council to promote the training of professionals working in the field in the management of humanitarian crises and conflict resolution based on a comprehensive approach that covers both the crisis/conflict cycle and the stages prior and subsequent to it. The Centre also aims to promote various initiatives to disseminate and raise awareness of the Culture of Peace by means of exhibitions and cultural activities, such as the exhibition "Chile: Photography and Coexistence", which was inaugurated at Montjuïc Castle last October, and the photojournalism and peace workshop with the Magnum and VII Agencies.

The international training programme was created in 2009 based on the conviction that education and training are essential for people who have to meet the challenges posed by humanitarian crises and conflicts, as prior training improves the efficiency and effectiveness of actions in situations in which the response time is critical.

In fact, being able to deal quickly and effectively with complex crises and their devastating impact is the result of previous planning, which includes appropriate provisions for professionals to start work quickly, in a coordinated manner, with clearly defined objectives. However, the work has to begin before the crises occur. The large number of fragile and unstable countries with great social inequalities mean that it is increasingly necessary to promote training in new strategies to prevent conflicts and to maintain and consolidate peace in post-conflict areas or those at risk of returning to conflict.

The areas covered in the field of construction of peace and humanitarian work are both varied and complementary. They can cover areas as diverse and complex as disarmament and reintegration of ex-combatants, return of refugees, comprehensive reform of the State security institutions and services, constitutional reform, protection of human rights and consolidation of government institutions, as well as many other equally essential tasks.

Once the need for training has been observed, the CRIPB works with a model that is unique in Spain, which is inspired by the philosophy of crisis management and peacekeeping operations training centres around the world. As of 2011, nearly 700 professionals from over 80 different countries have participated in some of the training modules organized in Montjuïc Castle on such diverse and necessary areas as Humanitarian Negotiation, Forced Migrations, Electoral Assistance, Transitional Justice, Civil Protection, Security Sector Reform (SSR) and Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of ex-combatants (DDR), to name just a few of the 30 courses that have been held in Barcelona.

In order to provide a training of excellence in accordance with the situation in the field, the CRIPB has established collaboration agreements to offer courses with academic institutions and international agencies that are leaders in their respective areas and in the training of civilians in crisis situations and peace operations: European Commission - United Nations Development Programme Joint Task Force on Electoral Assistance, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), Centre for International Humanitarian Cooperation (CIHC), Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) / Fire Services College UK, International Association for Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR International), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), The Hague Academy for Local Governance and the United Nations Development Program – Democratic Governance Group (DGG). Every year, new institutions and international partners join this initiative, showing their international focus and commitment.

The training modules taught are highly practical and based on experience gained in the field. The exchange of knowledge among participants, simulations and case studies are a basic part of the training, which also includes interactive teaching of the theoretical foundations.

Thanks to its partnerships with leading international agencies in their respective fields and the contributions from the participants, the CRIPB in Barcelona provides excellent training appropriate to today's changing and complex conditions on the ground, and has become an authentic international node of knowledge for professionals working in the areas of peace and humanitarian action.