Nepal has continued to deploy peacekeepers in the most challenging contexts around the world and is one of the top troop contributing countries today. The ICRC organises pre-deployment briefings with troops of the Nepali Army to exchange tools that help integrate relevant international norms relating to the conduct of hostilities and use of force into their peace-support operations (PSO) and to share other humanitarian concerns.

A two-day briefing for Nepali Army officers, who will be deployed on a peace-support mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), was organised on 18-19 November at Birendra Peace Operations Training Centre (BPOTC) at Paanchkhal in Kavre district.

Highlighting the relevance of the interaction, Andre Paquet, Head of Mission, ICRC Kathmandu, said, “Today, peacekeeping contexts are more complicated due to the lack of progress in finding political solutions, with also an increasing number of parties to the conflicts. We have a high level of affected civilians and displaced populations in need of protection and assistance.”

The 40 participating officers included Captain, Lieutenant Colonels and the contingent commander. There were some officers from the troops who will serve in Central African Republic (CAR) and Iraq as well. For the course, first of its kind, the BPOTC had brought together the officers from the troops currently undergoing pre-deployment training at the centre.

The course enables the troops to tackle specific humanitarian concerns in areas of deployment to ensure a positive contribution to strategies on protection of civilians, legal compliance, and the protection of the humanitarian space.

Delivering the opening remarks, Col Manoj Baidawar, the Commandant of BPOTC, thanked the ICRC for enriching the centre’s pre-deployment training module by delivering the course.

The ICRC resource persons comprised Yves Heller, Deputy Head of the ICRC Regional Delegation in New Delhi, Levent Vezir, Regional Delegate to the Armed Forces, ICRC Islamabad, Anuradha Saibaba, Legal Adviser, ICRC New Delhi, and Krishna Chalisey, Head of Communication in ICRC Kathmandu. The team made interactive presentations and conducted practical exercises on the applicable legal framework in PSO, conduct of hostilities, use of force, command responsibility and UN PSO, protection of civilians, detention, sexual violence and safer access to healthcare.

Lt Col Sujan Bahadur Malla, the contingent commander of the troop embarking on a mission to South Sudan, acknowledged the significance of the training and said, “The knowledge we have gained from the sessions would be useful during our deployment in the UN missions and in future assignments.”

Nepal sent its first peacekeepers on 12th June 1958 with five Military Observers in the United Nations Observer Group in Lebanon (UNOGIL) and Nepali Army’s peacekeepers have participated in 39 different missions since.

Established in 1986, BPOTC trains almost 6000 peacekeepers annually prior to their deployment to various missions.