In early April, military personnel of the Dutch Ministry of Defense gathered for a four day Pre-Deployment Training at The Clingendael Institute. Participants learn skills and socio-historical context from experts at the Institute before heading to United Nations missions (UNTSO and UNDOF) and a United States Security Coordinator-mission in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon and Syria.
Anne de Ruijter from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened by providing its perspective of the region and the missions. This was followed by key insights from Middle East experts, including arabist and anthropologist Leo Kwarten, into the region’s history and the socio-cultural context which will shape participants’ experiences there. Participants also learnt about the intricacies of the United Nations and its mandates.
In sessions provided by Clingendael-experts, participants learnt valuable skills including the basics of negotiations, conflict- and strategic analysis. These tools were used by participants to apply the learnings from previous days in analyses of their respective missions.
We were joined from the UNTSO-mission in Jerusalem by Head of Mission Maj.Gen. Patrick Gauchat, Colonel Per Nikolajsen and Major Lyndsay Freeman. They offered key insights and an opportunity for interaction with high-ranking officials in the field. Lt.Col. Germán Frechero at the UNIFIL-mission in Naqoura then applied key learnings in an analysis of the Lebanese context and the role of intelligence.
The programme was made extra lively and engaging through the contributions of its active participants, adding dimensions such as a critical gender-lens with which to analyse the region and missions.