THE EVOLUTION OF THE IAPTC
ROLES, RESPONSIBILITIES, CUSTOMS AND PRACTICES
Other than the general descriptions within the Articles of Association of the IAPTC, the many roles, responsibilities, customs and practices related to the IAPTC concept are not clearly and formally defined in any document. Over the history of the IAPTC there has been a lot of trial and error, and on occasion considerable expediency, with a process that has been dynamic; but, one that has developed into an extremely effective and productive process, and an international success story. Over time there have been changes to the process, adaptations of certain responsibilities, adoption of expedient measures, and changes in both the format of the annual conference and the way in which the IAPTC is managed.
The purpose of this document is to clarify the practices that have emerged over the years in relation to the roles, responsibilities, customs and procedures related to all aspects of the IAPTC concept – the membership, presidency, secretariat, host, chairs of functional committees, executive committee, the annual conference, relationships with the UN and regional and international organisations, and other aspects and modalities of the concept.
A fundamental point related to the evolution of the IAPTC is the fact that much of its success can be attributed to its informality and flexibility. This informal nature has been maintained by not having a bureaucratic overhead, by frequently adapting to the current membership’s wishes, by ensuring that members during plenary discussions, functional deliberations and multifunctional debates are free to express personal views based on experience and are not expected to cite government policies, by changing the composition of the executive committee each year and by providing sufficient free time in the program of the annual conference for bilateral and multi-lateral discussions. The Association, founded in 1995, has also proven readily adaptable to changing circumstances in the peacekeeping operational environment over the intervening years, to the evolution of joint, regional and new functional training institutions in the same period, to new technologies in the education field, and to a constantly changing membership and their wishes. For these reasons, care has been exercised when translating any current practice into firm policies within the Articles of Association.
Roles and Responsibilities
The membership: The participation in the annual conferences has grown from some 21 participants in 1995 to some 200 annually. The number and diversity of countries and education and training institutions/organisations has also grown proportionately. There have been a couple of attempts to formalise this membership. In the early years the idea was to capture the list of attendees at the annual conferences and keep a computer list. This had very limited success and utility because people changed positions, e-mail addresses changed for both organisations and individuals, some simply lost interest in the IAPTC, and many if not most were simply not interested in responding to e-mails or questionnaires about membership in-between annual conferences. The value of the Association for most was, quite evidently, the networking and learning value of the annual conferences during this period of dynamic change in the peacekeeping environment and the considerable changes and evolutionary nature of the education and learning environment.
In 2002 an attempt was made to create an on-line form for formal membership, but this failed because, similar to earlier experiences, few from the 2002 conference responded; indeed there were more advocacy groups who found the application form on-line than training organisations. In 2003 it was again raised in the annual general meeting and it was generally agreed that those who participate in the annual conference comprise the membership. This concept has been regularly reaffirmed, most recently in 2012. It is a simple, relevant and effective concept, requiring no significant management or membership effort.
The Presidency: The presidency has traditionally been responsible for the affairs of the IAPTC for one year – specifically promoting and safeguarding the concept and, normally, chairing and managing both the planning and conduct of the annual conference. The Presidency is not expected to be particularly pro-active. Most of the work done between annual conferences is conducted by the members of the Executive Committee, in particular the Host for the year and the Secretariat. This fits with the informal nature of the concept and recognises that the Presidency role, as are most Executive Committee roles, very much a secondary duty to the busy day-to-day responsibilities of any individual or institution. A second fundamental point regarding the presidency is that the responsibility for the presidency falls upon the institution appointed to the role, and not on any individual. Third, the presidency for the following year is automatically assumed by the host of the current year at the conclusion of the IAPTC’s annual general meeting. To reinforce the previous point of institutional responsibility, a number of individuals who have assumed the presidency on behalf of their institution were not involved in, or responsible for, the hosting of the previous year.
There are other points of ‘common practice’ worth noting. The division of responsibilities between host and presidency has shifted over time. The current practice is for the host to assume responsibility for all aspects of hosting, and the executive committee, chaired and guided by the president, is responsible for the planning and conduct of the annual conference. There have been occasions in the past, in particular prior to the more active engagement of the executive committee in 2003, where the host assumed almost full responsibility for both hosting and organising the annual conference, and more than once where the secretariat has actually developed and steered the program of the annual conference. Much has depended upon the will and available time of the parties involved, and on the IAPTC experience, or lack thereof, of presidencies and hosts. Flexibility has been, and still should remain, an important principle.
Decision-making is normally a consultative and consensus process within the Executive Committee, guided by the Presidency. The president chairs and guides the work of the executive committee. Since 2003 it has been through the executive committee’s efforts that planning for the annual conference has significantly improved.
The Secretariat: The role of the secretariat has also shifted over time. To a large degree the secretariat has been the main stability in the IAPTC process and, together with respective presidencies, has helped to safeguard the IAPTC concept. It was first assumed by the founding organisation, Canada’s Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, and maintained for 10 years. From 2005 – 2016 the Secretariat was the responsibility of India’s Centre for UN Peacekeeping. Commencing in late 2016 the Secretariat is the responsibility of the Cairo Center for Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping (CCCPA) in Egypt.
The secretariat has undertaken a number of roles over time. While it too is very much a secondary duty for the institution and for certain individuals, the secretariat performs vital functions for the Association. It maintains lists of conference participants, it maintains the Articles of Association, it manages the web site, it provides expert advice to hosts and presidencies alike, and it supports the presidency and host in the conduct of the annual general meeting. Most of all however it has provided a necessary flexibility to be able to step in, based on the experience of the two institutions, and address gaps in the IAPTC process, such as significantly contributing to the development of the annual conference program in the past, developing the program of, and on one occasion chairing, the executive committee’s planning meeting, and proposing and implementing new concepts where a need has arisen, such as the planning meetings of the executive committee. It has also assisted in finding speakers for the annual conference and on more than one occasion with funding. It has also provided background or discussion papers on issues raised at the annual general meeting. The secretariat is the institutional memory of the IAPTC, as well as a key resource flexibility.
The Host: The hosting concept has also adapted over time. Essentially today’s host is expected to look after all aspects of hosting the annual conference, including facilitating participation by some financially less-able organisations and/or ensuring the lowest possible cost for participants’ accommodation and meal costs. Participants in the annual conferences are expected to pay all of their own costs and for some this can be a challenge. The host works closely with the executive committee in planning the annual conference to ensure that substantive and administrative aspects of the program are properly coordinated. As noted above there have been occasions where the host has also contributed significantly to program development and occasions where the host has had to seek financial support from outside in order to host the annual conference.
Some years ago the membership agreed to identify a host for the conference two years ahead. This was done to enable the future incoming host to participate in the work of the executive committee for some 18 months before hosting, and thus learn the concept and gain experience in the planning process. This innovation has proven to be most useful for hosting organisations. This means that an organisation that signals a willingness and commitment to host actually participates on the executive committee for some four years – as incoming host, as host and incoming president, as president and as past president. This lends both a stability to the process as well as ensuring a geographic balance in the presidency and executive committee. It also means that once committed as a host, there are certain financial obligations to not only host but also participate in the work of the executive committee for four years and, hopefully, provide additional financial support to activities and work between annual conferences during the year of the presidency.
The host can be an education and training institution, a country or a regional organisation. Hosting rotates by continent, which ensures a certain burden-sharing, and contributes to raising the visibility of regional dimensions and issues.
The Past President: The past president continues to participate in the IAPTC process as a member of the executive committee and brings a particularly relevant experience to the table, having both hosted one conference and directed a second. While sometimes the individual is new, the experience of his/her institution is most relevant. The past president is expected to contribute to the follow-up of issues and to continue to promote the IAPTC concept in his/her region.
Functional Chairs: For each annual conference the responsibility to chair the functional meetings of the military, police and civilian committees of the annual conference rests with a volunteer institution. The chair is expected to not only chair the annual functional meetings, but also to seek views from his/her functional colleagues in advance of the meetings on issues to be discussed that are of interest to that particular function. The Chairs used to automatically rotate annually but starting in 2015 this concept changed in order to make the Executive Committee more effective. If the Chair becomes actively engaged with the membership in between annual conferences, and also actively contributes to the management of the Association in between conferences, then a chair may seek to extend its tenure by a year or two. This mechanism not only ensures that there is expert and dedicated leadership in the functional committees, but through periodic rotation facilitates the participation of a number of education and training institutions and organisations in the work and planning efforts of the executive committee. The rotation is done in such a way as to ensure geographic balance so that each chair is from a different region. To ensure a 4 region balance there are now 4 functional chairs, through the addition of a Pedagogical Committee. This therefore, in addition to the same concept within the tripartite presidency, further ensures that the interests of all regions are considered when developing the policies and programs of the IAPTC.
The Executive Committee: The executive committee’s principle role is to develop the program for the annual conference and to support the president in managing the annual conference. This ensures that all regions have a voice in the development and conduct of the annual conference. The executive committee also provides advice as required to incoming hosts, to hosts and to functional chairs. It is the management structure for the IAPTC concept and process. It includes the president, host, incoming host, past president, four functional chairs, the secretariat, representation from the UN (usually from DPKO/ITS), the chairs of any committees created by the Executive Committee to support its work, and ex-officio IAPTC expert(s).
Since 2003, the executive committee has met to plan the annual conference in detail in the early half of the year. Since 2004 this meeting has been held on the site of the annual conference, to familiarise the executive committee with the facilities and administrative support and, indeed, regional aspects. During the annual conference itself, the committee normally meets as required on the margins of the conference, and by custom and practice this entails: a coordinating session before the conference begins; a mid-course session to adapt the conference if required and/or to begin to process of determining the following year’s hosts; a session just ahead of the annual general meeting to finalise and clarify the agenda and the issues to be discussed; and a session following the annual conference to establish the new executive committee. In addition to the new functional chairs and incoming host this latter session is normally also attended by outgoing members (past presidents and functional chairs). Its purpose is to set in motion the follow-up activity from the annual conference, as well as initiating the planning for the next year’s conference, and assigning responsibilities within the executive committee.
The Annual Conference: The main activity of the IAPTC is the convening of an annual conference. This normally takes place in the second half of the year, September to November. The conference is open to any organisation or individual with an interest in education, training and research for peace operations. It is not a forum for advocacy groups to promote causes, nor is it an occasion for the addressing of operational or policy issues. Participation has grown to some 200 people, although for most hosts this number is potentially now close to an upper limit. The venue rotates by region. Conferences have been held in every major region of the world at least four times and generally raise the visibility of peacekeeping education and training within the hosted region as a result.
The conference consists of an opening session, which normally includes remarks from senior official(s) of the host country, discussion topics to a particular topical theme (discussed in outline a year in advance), separate functional group discussions for police, civilians and military on issues of interest to members, thematic discussions on issues raised by members or groups of members, an Ideas Bazaar designed to facilitate the promotion of programs and capabilities of participating organisations, but also to showcase new ideas in learning methodology and technology, an Annual General Meeting to discuss and plan the business of the Association, and a closing session, plus ample opportunity through social program and free time for bilateral and multi-lateral discussions and networking.
One of the ways in which the IAPTC concept is routinely strengthened is by adapting the format of this annual conference to reflect members’ wishes, and by continuing to make the conference more effective and efficient. Significant adaptation has taken place since 2001, including many of the components listed in the preceding paragraph, as the conference has evolved from 2 days to some 4 days.
One of the cautions in the process however is for realistic consideration by the membership of the possibility of achieving things in-between conferences. On several occasions in the past there have been efforts to develop papers or conduct research on topical issues as a result of the enthusiasm generated at the conference, most of which have not even been partially realised. The reality is that members value the conference, the networking, the substantive discussions, the exchanges and the conference products, but have little time or interest in-between conferences to undertake new tasks and responsibilities.
Relationships: The IAPTC has developed a number of useful relationships with other organisations and individuals in the past, and this process needs to continue and be strengthened. The first of these is the relationship with the UN, in particular UN DPKO and its training service. For both the UN and the IAPTC membership, UN participation in both the annual conference and the overall concept and planning process is extremely valuable; it is a real ‘two-way street’. In one place and at one time a large number of centres are available to be updated by the UN; similarly the UN is able to discuss bilateral issues with many organisations and to understand what is going on regionally and at specific centres. Having the UN in the planning process also ensures that current education and training issues are taken into account when preparing the program for the annual conference.
Other principal relationships include informal links to other regional bodies focused on education and training for peace operations, such as the African Peace Support Training Centers (APSTA), the Latin America Association of Peacekeeping Operations Training Centers (ALCOPAZ), the Association of Asia Pacific Peace Operations Training Centres (AAPTC) and the European Association of Peace Operations Training Centers (EAPTC). More recently, in 2014, the IAPTC also developed an informal link with the annual US based Peace and Stability Operations Training and Education Workshop – PSOTEW. International and regional organisations also routinely participate in the IAPTC, including the AU, EU, and OSCE, and NATO was a founding member in 1995. In addition a number of UN Agencies have made valuable contributions to past conferences, such as OCHA, UNHCR and UNHCHR. Moreover, most conferences routinely include former senior officials from peacekeeping missions, such as military force commanders, police commissioners and special representatives of the UN Secretary General, some of whom have participated on more than one occasion.
Articles of Association
To facilitate and manage the IAPTC process a series of “Articles of Association’ were developed in 1999, and have since been amended on 6 occasions, most recently in 2014. These Articles can be found on the IAPTC web site.