UNOAU attends the African Standby Capacity Annual Conference
From 18 to 20 May, UNOAU attended the virtual African Standby Capacity (ASC) Annual Conference, which was chaired by the Capability Development Unit (CDU) of the Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD) and attended by all RECs/RMs (Regions), implementing partners ZIF and ACCORD, and the Training Centers of Excellence (TCE). The aim of the conference was to receive updates from the five regions, the training centers, AU HQ, implementing and support partners.
The ASC provides a roster of qualified civilian staff who have undergone a selection process, undertaken the civilian foundation course (CFC) run by the TCE and are willing to deploy with regional African Standby Forces (ASF) as part of the Civilian Component in African peace support operations (PSOs). The roster can equally be used for political, observer and election support missions. UNOAU closely supported the AU in re-drafting the Selection Guidelines Manual (SGM) and in drafting the professional level generic job descriptions for use in the rostering and recruitment processes.
The five Regions briefed on their achievements and challenges in recruitment, selection and populating the roster in 2020. Due to COVID-19, the achievements in recruitment and training were limited and reduced compared to previous years, with significant staffing and resource challenges. Effective communication with and monitoring of identified candidates on the roster were identified as areas for more attention as part of managing the roster system. In addition, greater synergy and standardization between regions need to be addressed taking into consideration local regional and member state dynamics. Online training had proven to be useful in delivering knowledge-based courses but was not the answer for all training. The nexus between selection and training further has to be streamlined to ensure that selected candidates are trained, as opposed to training individuals who have not been through a selection process. The Regions noted the high turnover of recruiting staff and requested training in the recently revised SGM and in Competency Based Interviewing (CBI).
Both ZIF and ACCORD addressed the issues raised at the previous Annual Conference regarding database management and the ASC website. Both provided working examples of the improved website, comprehensive communications strategy and improved database operability. Briefing was provided on Edition 2 of the SGM with the English and French version completed and ready for distribution. The Arabic version is in its final proof reading and will be available online shortly. The AU Head Capability Development Unit advised that the ASF concept will be revised in line with the recently approved PSO Doctrine, which would include the ASC component and rostering requirements. In preparing for the new ASF/ASC concept, it is imperative that the current rosters be validated to ascertain the real baseline which will then determine the job categories in which recruitment should be focused, recruitment of civilian staff in the Regions be completed, training needs and possible new SGM and CBI skills to be provided for.