01st August 2017 14:23:30 Hours
Three-day sessions of the 9th Asia-Pacific Peace-keeping Training Centre Commandants’ Conference (APPTCCC), themed ‘Challenges of Developing a Robust Peacekeeping Mindset’ and the Annual General Meeting of the Association of Asia-Pacific Peace Operations Training Centres (AAPTC), commenced this morning (1) at Hotel Taj Samudra, Colombo, attended by more than 40 foreign delegates and the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake as the Chief Guest for the inaugural ceremony.
Lighting of the traditional oil lamp by the Commander of the Army and other distinguished invitees heralded the formal commencement of the sessions, followed by opening remarks of the Chief Guest after the welcome address.
In his address to the sessions, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake pointed out that the AAPTC programme would serve as an audience for providing intellectual connectivity amongst those who seek regional and global partnerships by convening prominent national and international scholars, think-tanks, and diplomats around this particular theme. The workshop 2017 is also designed to encourage participants to take part actively in discussions so as to stimulate critical thinking, he said.
“Sri Lanka Army has been engaged in training peacekeepers since 2004 and to-date we have trained 28, 998 peacekeepers at the prestigious Institute of Peace Support Operations Training in Sri Lanka (IPSOTSL). The total number of deployed troops would be 19,395 so far. Also, at the moment one Composite Engineering Squadron and a Convoy Protection Company are prepared to deploy in UNISMA. I believe that my country will do its part in this process and this AGM and Workshop is a clear demonstration of our government's strong commitment to this noble mission. Further, the action plan spells out specific ideas to build stronger peacekeepers through training while acknowledging that global institutions and practices are the backbone of a robust mindset,” the Commander told the gathering.
Although robust peacekeeping is not a new concept and has been partially implemented in some operations such as Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Lebanon, it has attracted renewed attention since 2008 with the developments in its conceptualization. While it recognizes the necessity and virtue of a robust approach as a protection mechanism for peacekeepers, it is required to recognize the extent to which robust peacekeeping is politically acceptable and operationally viable. Training was one of the best welfare projects for me and that should be the case with any soldier in a capacity-based Army. We are on our way to establish a Directorate of Peacekeeping Operations for ourselves, intending to produce more learned / trained Officers and Other Ranks who are ready to be deployed in UN peacekeeping missions, the keynote speaker added.
This year’s theme of the APPTCCC, ‘Challenges of Developing a Robust Peacekeeping Mindset’ within the Asia-Pacific region will have separate sessions, devoted to ‘workshop objectives and agenda’, ‘Sri Lanka’s IPSOTSL training presentations’, ‘Summary of the training related activities’, ‘training instructor standards’ and ‘areas of cooperation for Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System (PCRS)’ during the first day of the conference.
More than 40 representatives from Australia, Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand and Sri Lanka at the request of the IPSOTSL and the Directorate of Training at the Army Headquarters are attending the conference sessions.
Delegates of the GPOI, BIPSOT, IPSOTSL, United Nations Department of Peace Keeping Operations (UNDPKO), International Organizations such as OMA, ALCOPAZ, APSTA, EAPTC and a few more senior military Officers of the Sri Lankan armed forces also contributed to the Day 1 of the Colombo sessions.
Major General Piyal Wickremaratne, Director General General Staff, Major General G.V Ravipriya, Director General Training, Brigadier Prasad Pathirathna, Commandant, IPSOTSL and several Senior Officers were also present.