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181020poc400The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and United Nations training course for Protection of Civilians concluded on Oct. 10 at the Finnish Defense Forces International Centre in Helsinki, Finland.

The course instructs military officers working at the strategic and operational levels by introducing common NATO-UN themes. This includes emphasizing the need for a population-centric perspective, assessing the vulnerabilities and resiliencies of civilians, examining the motives, strategies, and capabilities of perpetrators, and using military capabilities to protect civilians and mitigate harm to the population.

NATO and the UN have an enduring commitment to work together on topics of mutual interest, and the Protection of Civilians is an area where both organisations have shared interest and mutual benefit.

"In today’s complex security environment, it is important that NATO and United Nations continue working together and share training on topics of mutual interest, enabling both to share perspectives and learn from each other’s experiences,” said Clare Hutchinson, Special Representative to NATO Secretary General for Women Peace and Security. Hutchinson is also part of a panel with the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross. “Protection of Civilians is important for both organisations, and this pilot training course has proved to be ground-breaking as it has encouraged cooperation, [an honest] exchange of ideas, and active learning opportunities for both NATO and the United Nations,”

Participants of this training discussed how this combined approach will aid both NATO and the UN because even though perceptions of a crisis may be different; the environment, situation and threats will be the same. Therefore, training together will increase the understanding of roles, capabilities, and complementarities.

The course will run twice a year as it aims to complement NATO exercises, while strengthening NATO’s planning and conduct of future operations.

Allied Command Transformation thanks the following organisations for their contributions in the development and execution of the course:

  • Finnish Defense Forces International Centre
  • The US Army War College Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • PAX
  • UN Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support.

Read more: Protection of Civilians Fact Sheet

As seen in recent global crises, civilians are increasingly the victims of the adverse effects of armed conflict. They are either caught between the warring parties or are the target of perpetrators seeking to use them to advance political or ideological agendas. This threat will persist whether during a crisis or in a Collective Defence operation as civilians will be present, especially in a world with increased urbanization.

The United Nations and NATO have an enduring commitment to work together on topics of mutual interest, and the Protection of Civilians is an area where both organisations have shared interest and mutual benefit.

Incorporated in all new United Nations Peacekeeping missions since 1999, the Protection of Civilians mandate now have an architecture of resolutions. NATO is committed to the Protection of Civilians as seen by the overarching policy endorsed by NATO nations in July 2016 and the Military Concept which was approved by nations in July 2018.