Training for Human Rights
By Dialogo January 01, 2012
Peru has demonstrated its commitment to world peace by its participation in several
peacekeeping missions for more than half a century. It has contributed to 14 peace missions
around the world, according to Inter-American Defense College data. In the past decade, the
nation has further reinforced its dedication by creating two institutions that train
Peruvian Armed Forces and civilians, and military forces from other Latin American countries
on how to handle extreme situations in conflict areas. Although it has the smallest arms
budget in South America, Peruvian Armed Forces maintain missions in the Congo, Côte
d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Haiti, Liberia and Sudan, an achievement possible only through
a steadfast commitment to training military personnel in human rights.
Peru first took part in peacekeeping operations in Lebanon in 1958. But the country
did not send contingents of troops until the 1970s, when a Peruvian battalion in the U.N.
Emergency Force was sent to the Middle East during the Arab-Israeli conflict. Today, a key
element in the training of military personnel participating in these missions is respect for
The Center for International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights of the Peruvian
Armed Forces was created in 2003 to educate the military personnel about international
humanitarian law through training, reflection, research and word of mouth within the Armed
Forces. At present, the center – the first of its kind in South America – is part of the
Peruvian Defense Ministry, which sets the direction for its activities in accordance with
the country’s policies and strategic objectives, and in conformity with its constitutional
mandate, applicable legislation and international treaties related to the protection and
promotion of human rights and international humanitarian law.
“The instruction is given through the delivery of training courses, both in Lima
and in the interior of the country, to officers, technicians and noncommissioned officers
(NCOs), of the Peruvian Armed Forces,” said Peruvian Army Lieutenant Colonel Esteban Abad
Agurto, an instructor at the center. He added that in recent years it has expanded to
include civilians such as judges and prosecutors. The length of the courses varies between
15 days for the basic NCOs’ course to 30 days for the basic officers’ course. According to
Lt. Col. Abad Agurto, “Some [of the students] have even become instructors in the different
Armed Forces training schools.”
Lt. Col. Abad Agurto said that more than 3,500 civilian and military participants
have taken part in the training, from countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil,
Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. Many center graduates become instructors at the Joint
Training Center for Peace Operations (CECOPAZ), a parallel institution dependent on the
Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Command, and specifically dedicated to the education,
instruction and training of personnel designated to participate in U.N. peace operations.
The Armed Forces Joint Command not only supervises CECOPAZ, but also plans,
coordinates and supervises the equipment and training of personnel who will participate in
multinational peace operations forces. It was created in 2003 in response to the Peruvian
commitment to participate in peace operations through the United Nations and other
There are two types of peacekeeping contingents. Observer missions ensure
compliance with international humanitarian law and respect for human rights by means of
observation, verification and reporting. The second is peacekeeping, characterized
by troops who patrol the streets and maintain order. Peruvian female officers have
participated in observer missions since the 1970s but only recently began participating in
peacekeeping missions. In 2009, in response to new peacekeeping needs, CECOPAZ for the first
time called on female officers and NCOs from the three Military branches to put together the
first female peacekeeping force. The first class graduated in 2011 and was then deployed to
support the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti for an initial rotation of six months.
Peruvian Army Staff Sergeant Karla Sallo Guerra was part of the inaugural class and
spoke with Diálogo about her experience. “We were two groups – one from the Army and the
other from the Navy – studying English and French and receiving physical training, first of
all,” she said. Next came instruction in U.N. courses. “They taught us the mission that we
were going to carry out in Haiti with courses on how we should treat people once we were
there, what our mission is in the event of disasters, riots and strikes – what we should and
shouldn’t do, peacekeeping instruction, and Red Cross courses,” Staff Sgt. Sallo Guerra
Both institutions are taking the reins in training military personnel to handle
conflict situations not only in war, but also in the realities of today’s world. Staff Sgt.
Sallo Guerra described the human impact of her mission, and the unique role that female
graduates of CECOPAZ will be able to play. “They told us that we would be going to carry out
a civic action mission, and that as women, we can play an important role because we have
more access to women and children.”
A Look at the Coursework
The courses offered by the International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Center
of the Peruvian Armed Forces are intended for all members of the Armed Forces, from
noncommissioned officers to colonels. The different courses include:
WORKSHOP COURSE: 40 classroom hours for officers, technicians, and noncommissioned
officers of the Peruvian Armed Forces and National Police and civilian professionals.
BASIC OFFICERS’ COURSE: 190 classroom hours for officers of the Peruvian Armed
Forces and National Police and civilian professionals.
BASIC TECHNICIANS’ AND NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICERS’ COURSE: 90 classroom hours for
technicians and noncommissioned officers of the Armed Forces.
ADVANCED COURSE: 80 classroom hours for officers of the Peruvian Armed Forces and
National Police and civilian professionals.
The courses offered by the Joint Training Center for Peace Operations (CECOPAZ)
focus on training and preparing officers, technicians, noncommissioned officers and enlisted
personnel to operate according to United Nations operational and administrative procedures.
In addition to courses for instructors and contingents, the courses include:
Distance-education course: Ten topics including the United Nations system, the
structure of peacekeeping operations, the legal framework for peacekeeping operations and
the Code of Personal Conduct for Blue Helmets.
Military Observers and General Staff Course: For officers of the Peruvian Armed
Forces and foreign forces (previously invited through bilateral agreements or other
agreements signed by the Armed Forces Joint Command). This course focuses on providing
general knowledge – divided into 30 topics – about peace operations and specific knowledge
about technical professional aspects applicable to any mission area.
Pre-Deployment Haiti Course: Mandatory for officers and enlisted personnel
designated to fill vacancies in military contingents at the different U.N. missions. The
course lasts 45 days and covers 31 topics in three directed and operational areas of
application in the field.
Peace Correspondents’ Seminars: For Armed Forces personnel and members of the
media designated to serve as correspondents accredited to the different U.N. missions.
This course last five days.
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