Every year since 2001, for two weeks, 24 peacebuilding professionals from around the world converge in the small town of Stans, in the heart of Switzerland, to follow the Swiss Peacebuilding Training Course. The course combines conceptual inputs with a post-conflict, scenario-based simulation.
Originally designed exclusively for members of the Swiss Expert Pool for Civilian Peacebuilding (SEP) and run directly by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), in cooperation with the Swiss Armed Forces International Command SWISSINT, since 2006 the course has welcomed participants from all nations, both civilian and military. It was also at this time that the GCSP and swisspeace were chosen to conduct the course on behalf of the FDFA.
Throughout the course, many topics are covered including conflict analysis, mediation skills, the role of police and armed forces, gender sensitivity and the protection of civilians. In addition to interactive classroom-based learning, a unique highlight of the course is the ‘Mikeland’ simulation. It is a scenario that runs throughout the course and culminates in a full-day field exercise.
Following this, participants are required to present an action plan to former Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) of the UN, Mr Michael von der Schulenberg. The exercise simulates a post-conflict situation where participants are sent on a fact-finding mission around “Mikeland”, a fictitious country. During this mission, the participants encounter a number of unexpected situations that they must handle while still carrying out the task at hand.
This year, the participants came from a variety of backgrounds, including the Colombia peace process through the Organization of American States (OAS); police reform in Kyrgyzstan; risk analysis in the African Great Lakes; the Bulgarian Criminal Department; the United Nations Development Programme in Albania and Sierra-Leone; the OSCE in Ukraine; and communication in peacekeeping missions.
The participants expressed very positive feedback, appreciating both the organisation of the course and the quality of the trainers. It proved extremely interesting to share knowledge and experience among the participants who have extensive field experience working on different peacebuilding processes.
After an intense two weeks, the course wrapped up with the presentations from the participants to Mr von der Schulenburg, who played the SRSG in the “Mikeland scenario”, on their “Action Plan” and recommendations. At the end of the course, Mr von der Schulenburg gave his feedback and shared some thoughts and insights based on his wealth of experience. The next edition of the course will take place in September 2016 so make sure to register early and we hope to see you here in Stans for the next edition!