Strolling through hallways and listening to students discuss peacekeeping missions or wandering in a classroom during an international humanitarian law lecture are part of daily life at Chile’s Joint Peacekeeping Operations Center (CECOPAC). Its students are members of the Chilean Armed Forces, Carabineros, Investigative Police, and civilians, who are preparing to be deployed to United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeping missions and European Union crisis management missions.
Diálogo had the opportunity to visit CECOPAC in Santiago, Chile, to talk with its director, Chilean Army Colonel Moisés De Pablo López, about the center’s mission and its contributions to Chile’s commitment to world peace.
Diálogo: What is CECOPAC’s mission?
Chilean Army Colonel Moisés De Pablo López, director of Chile’s Joint Peacekeeping Operations Center:CECOPAC’s mission is to train all of Chile’s military, civilian, Carabineros, and Investigative Police personnel for each of Chile’s deployments in peacekeeping or crisis management operations. In addition, we provide advice to the Ministry of Defense on peacekeeping operations, crisis management, and studies for better decision-making by political authorities regarding the future of deployment.
Diálogo: What is CECOPAC’s contribution to U.N. peacekeeping missions in its two decades of existence?
Col. De Pablo: Having our people highly trained, qualified, and available for Chile’s future deployments in each of the missions in which we are participating. Today we are represented in the Middle East, in UNTSO [United Nations Truce Supervision Organization]; we are in Cyprus operating with the Argentine Task Force, and we are in Colombia supporting compliance with the peace agreement; we are in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in a mission of the European Union as the only Latin American country, and to date we’ve had very good results with our deployed contingents.
Diálogo: Chile has been participating in international cooperation missions since 1935, and particularly in peacekeeping operations since 1949. In your opinion, what are the most relevant lessons the Chilean Armed Forces learned?
Col. De Pablo: I believe that the most relevant lessons learned are the interoperability with other forces integrating the U.N. International System, in terms of operational law, humanitarian law, including Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security itself, in which we’ve been able to integrate, under equal conditions, the women who are part of our contingents in peacekeeping operations in which Chile participates.
Diálogo: CECOPAC is a joint interministerial center. What is its operational and interagency structure like?
Col. De Pablo: We are an organization that depends on the Ministry of Defense, created by Supreme Decree 114 of July 15, 2002, which states that we are joint and integrated; therefore, we are a classic training center structure where the armed forces, law enforcement, and public security forces, and civilians are integrated. We have guest professors and students from abroad, permanent instructors from Argentina and Brazil. We’ve had countries like Argentina and Brazil, which are permanent, and over the years we’ve had instructors from Australia, Spain, and France, among others.
Diálogo: What is the biggest challenge of training personnel to participate in peacekeeping missions?
Col. De Pablo: It’s to train highly qualified personnel who come from the armed forces and the police, and to give them a holistic vision of the problems that they’re going to experience in the different operational environments of the missions they’ll be deployed. It’s also training them in fulfilling the operational tasks that they are going to carry out in the mission area.
Diálogo: What kind of academic curriculum does CECOPAC develop to train military and civilian personnel who assist in peacekeeping missions?
Col. De Pablo: The academic curriculum is based on objectives and competencies. We have the standard modules to comply with U.N. requirements and to certify our deployed force. We have also deepened our knowledge of the mission area, since we have the experience and lessons learned from the last personnel deployed as instructors in the pre-deployment courses. On the competency side, we practically take what we learn into practice, that is, from the classroom to the field.
Diálogo: How many students does the Center receive annually and what are the most requested courses?
Col. De Pablo: The Center received 633 students in 2021, but in its 20 years, CECOPAC has had more than 19,590 students. The most requested courses are those on humanitarian aid operations, military observers, U.N. police, and the U.N. General Staff.
Diálogo: Do you have online courses?
Col. De Pablo: Yes, my predecessors were right to implement online courses and a virtual platform. We teach the course on Operational Law, the introductory course on International Cooperation Operations and Crisis Management; we have a curriculum of 16 courses available. We can do them in a hybrid form and that has strengthened us a lot, being able to invite students from other countries, especially from Latin America, to participate in our courses, in such a way that we all know the problems of the pandemic and they join us via multimedia.
Diálogo: What is CECOPAC’s international projection?
Col. De Pablo: Our projection makes us quite happy and has been consolidated over the years and the participation of our contingents; we could say that in the area the center is a Latin American benchmark, and we also participate in the Latin American Association of Peacekeeping Operations Training Centers (ALCOPAZ), in the global peace initiative of [U.S.] Southern Command, in the International Association of Peacekeeping Operations Training Centres (IAPTC). The integration is already quite consolidated, and what gives us credit is how we are asked to train the forces in order to be able to deploy them, and that means that we are doing things well and we are training our personnel well.
Diálogo: What progress has been made in gender integration in peacekeeping missions?
Col. De Pablo: It is undoubtedly a substantive progress. We’ve gone from practically only men in peacekeeping and crisis management operations. Today in Chile, women are fully integrated into the Armed Forces and the Police — so they can actively participate in all areas of peacekeeping and crisis management. We’ve had female officers and noncommissioned officers deployed in Haiti, Colombia, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, among others, actively participating in all the missions that correspond to our territory.
To see the full interview with Chilean Army Colonel Moisés De Pablo López, director of the Chilean Joint Peacekeeping Operations Center, please click on the following link: https://dialogo-americas.com/articles/a-conversation-with-colonel-moises-de-pablo-lopez-director-of-cecopac/#.YqCgsMXMLZ4