The United Nations Command, Control, Communication and Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Academy for Peace Operations has inaugurated its first virtual instructor-led training (VILT) facility at the regional service centre Entebbe.
VILT is a remote training class led by a facilitator through a virtual platform.
During the launch, Paulin Djomo, the director of the UN Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, highlighted that the centre serves over 16,000 staff members in peacekeeping and political offices across Africa.
"The centre represents a modern approach to training, where facilitators utilize online platforms to deliver interactive and engaging training sessions," he explained.
He further emphasized that VILT creates a synchronous remote learning environment, enabling participants to collaborate and learn together in real time.
Djomo stated that the new system will enhance the UN's capacity in mounting and sustaining peacekeeping operations by improving operational performance, safety, and security for peacekeepers.
Bernardo Mariano, the Assistant Secretary-General and Chief Information and Technology Officer, emphasised the importance of training people and building their capacity to achieve successful peacekeeping missions. He mentioned the significance of providing the peacekeeping workforce with digital skills to carry out their work effectively.
Mariano also stressed the need to leverage the experience of key partners to promote and deliver advanced training programs.
He highlighted the impact of digital tools and transformation in peacekeeping operations and how they contribute to the safety and security of peacekeepers and the communities they serve.
He described the digital transformation of peacekeeping as a collaborative and transformative journey guided by UN principles and strategic partnerships.
The newly commissioned VILT facility offers real-time collaboration, accessibility to subject matter experts, immersive learning experiences, tracking and measurement of success, cost reduction, and increased training capacity.
The UN Centre in Entebbe serves as a training hub for all UN peace operations and missions in Africa.
Sherri Aker, the Deputy Dean of NATO in charge of information and communication, highlighted the importance and relevance of the newly commissioned facility. She mentioned its role in tracking and measuring success, reducing costs, and providing access to subject matter experts.
Aker commended the tireless efforts and dedication of the regional support centre and the UN ISR Academy.
She emphasized that technology is a key element in the UN's strategy for digital transformation and peacekeeping implementation, providing flexibility and effective training for peacekeeping forces.
The overall objective of the United Nations Academy for Peace Operations is to strengthen the instructor corps, develop tailored curricula, and train ICT officers from UN troop and police contributing nations.
Ambassador Philip Odida, the Acting Director for Regional and International Political Affairs in Uganda's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, acknowledged the evolution of the regional support centre from a pilot centre to a fully-fledged client service centre that caters to the needs of a majority of UN peacekeeping and special political missions worldwide.
Odida called for a long-term commitment to the initiative, focusing on training peacekeepers and ensuring overall sustainability. He emphasized the importance of building internal capacities, promoting self-sufficiency, and aligning with the UN's broader strategies for digital transformation and peacekeeping.
The UNCAP-NATO Partnership, endorsed by NATO Foreign Ministers in April 2020, aligns with the broader DCB Package for UN Peacekeeping Training.
The partnership aims to enhance the operational performance and safety of UN peacekeepers through sharing course materials, delivering train-the-trainer courses, providing consultancy support, and developing VILT capabilities.
The VILT centre, a cornerstone of this collaboration, introduces a remote training platform that enables real-time interaction between instructors and participants.
It offers an immersive learning experience, access to expert advice, interactive simulations for skills development, and effective progress tracking. The centre also addresses challenges posed by the ongoing uncertainties surrounding Covid-19, ensuring uninterrupted training while prioritizing safety.
The completion and launch of the VILT facility mark a significant milestone in strengthening the UN's capacity to mount and sustain peacekeeping operations.
It represents a significant step in the cooperation between NATO and the UN in implementing the Defence and Related Security Capacity Building (DCB) package for UN peacekeeping capacity development.