6-9 February 2018: Training Workshop on the DPKO/UNODA handbook
The United Nations regional center for peace and disarmament in Africa (UNREC), the Department of peace keeping operations (DPKO) and UNITAR have just concluded a five day module development workshop in Lomé Togo. This workshop which was a follow up of an initial workshop held in New York on the 13 and 14 of December 2017, had as objective the finalization of a program for one week training on the DPKO/UNODA handbook. Both workshops are part of an ongoing project by ODA and DPKO titled “Effective Weapon and Ammunition management in a changing DDR context”. This project aims to support the arms and ammunition element of the work of United Nations disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) practitioners in the field.

The first phase of this two-phased joint project had as key output a DDR Handbook which provides guidance on how to design and implement state-of-the-art weapons and ammunition management operations. This handbook which is now available in both English and French draws upon good practice in the domain of DDR as well as the most recent international standards and guidelines, including the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS) and the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines (IATG).

Having developed this handbook, the second phase of this ODA/DPKO project will involve planning and executing trainings for DDR practitioners based on the handbook. Now more than ever, DDR practitioners are required to function in complex conflict environments characterized by political and economic instability, multiple armed actors and a prevalence of weapons and ammunition. Such environments complicate the application of United Nations peacekeeping principles and other international standards with regards to weapon and ammunition management. As such, in addition to the provision of the manual, specific training on its use in complex environments is a crucial component of the current project.
The just ended Lomé workshop provided the opportunity for the ODA/DPKO team to confirm the training modules, adopt appropriate training methodologies and develop a monitoring and evaluation program.

The last two days of the workshop were spent carrying out field visits to potential venues for some modules of the upcoming trainings. The team visited the Koffi Anan International Peace Training Centre in Accra, Ghana, and the Centre de perfectionnement aux actions post-conflictuelles de déminage et de dépollution Ouida, Benin. At both sites, the team shared lessons on best practices with regards to weapon handling, observed classroom sessions and identified potential trainers. The workshop ended with a validation of a finalized programme for one week training on the DDR handbook. In addition, the team also visited the National commission for the control of Small arms and light weapons in Togo.

The development of these training modules by the joint ODA/DPKO/UNITAR team demonstrates the ongoing efforts by the UN system to increase the effectiveness of peace operations. Through this initiative, the DPKO and ODA through its regional office UNREC seeks to support member states effectively implement disarmament and arms-control instruments with a view to curtailing illicit trafficking and proliferation of arms. This initiative will go a long way to support the implementation of the United Nations Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA). The effective implementation of the PoA will in turn facilitate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.

ODA and DPKO look forward to the next phase of this project which will involve the training of DDR practitioners from UN missions across the globe at UNREC.
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