Faced with the current conflicts that threaten international peace, in L’Alfàs del Pi people from different corners of the world met with the aim of addressing the XXVI edition of REACT, Rapid Expert Assistance and Co-operation Teams, a training program of five weeks on peace processes and conflict prevention, organized by the Helsinki Spain Association, with the aim of improving the capacities of the participants in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, as well as the protection of civilians in armed conflicts and, strengthen the competence and confidence of the members when dealing with risk and/or critical situations effectively, as would happen when working in peacekeeping missions.
With 26 editions of the course behind us, we have had the pleasure of having experts from international organizations, such as the United Nations, European Union, OSCE and NATO, as well as diplomatic military personnel, members of the International Committee of the Red Cross and other NGOs. humanitarian organizations, as well as independent consultants and staff from different international universities.
Until June 26, the program has been developed at the Social Centre Playa del Albir thanks to the collaboration of the Department of Cooperation and Volunteering of the City Council of L’Alfàs del Pi, where six of the seven modules based on training in conflict prevention were included and peacebuilding, international law, protection of civilians, current conflicts and threats to international peace and security, key actors and their contribution to international peace and security, and tools for sustainable peace.
The seventh and final module called HEAT, Hostile Environment Awareness Training, will take place in Los Ángeles de San Rafael, Segovia, from June 27 to July 1, thanks to which students will participate in simulations to learn how to deal with the risks associated and other critical or emergency situations during mission deployment, covering skills and competencies on how to act in the event of kidnapping, hostage taking and encounters with weapons, mines and explosives; going through the acquisition of knowledge on first aid in hostile environments and orientation and communication in the field; to driving an SUV and defending against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.
In Spain, REACT is the only training course of these characteristics, having trained nearly 500 people throughout its 26 editions. The Helsinki Spain Association has worked under the conviction of the transforming power of education and the need to train people from all kinds of countries and situations in conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict, as the best instrument within our power to contribute to global peacebuilding efforts.
Yesterday we launched the 26th edition of our REACT program.
The inauguration took place in the locality of El Albir in Alfaz del Pi, Alicante, Spain. The session began with opening remarks by Ms. Martine Mertens, who welcomed all attendees on behalf of the Alfaz del Pi City Council. Subsequently, the President of Helsinki España, Ms. Maria Jaen, took the floor and officially announced the beginning of the program. On behalf of the entire Helsinki España team, she welcomed all guests and expressed special appreciation towards Under-Secretary for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, whose presence, she kindly remarked, made the launch of this year’s edition “my most special opening to date”. Ms Martine Mertens then introduced and gave the floor to USG Lacroix.
“In the face of contemporary challenges, all of us working on conflict prevention, crisis management, peacekeeping and peacebuilding should strive to nurture our skills, share lessons learned, and foster new partnerships. This is why programs like REACT are so important and why all of us in the Department of Peace Operations welcome the opportunity to partner with Helsinki España,” said Under-Secretary General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix. At the end of his address, he addressed this year’s participants: “Mindset and motivation – these are critical elements for success in peace missions”, he added. “I hope that many of you will serve in our missions.”
REACT is Helsinki España’s flagship international peacebuilding program: a comprehensive 220h in-person training on Conflict Prevention, Crisis Management, and post-Conflict Rehabilitation. It was launched in 2003 by proposal from Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation with support from the OSCE and the United Nations, with the aim of equipping selected professionals with the skills and competencies required to deploy in international peace operations. This year’s edition will last from May 30th to July 1st, with its first four weeks taking place in Alicante.
What makes this month-long program unique, besides being imparted by high-profile experts and trainers from international and public institutions – including numerous UN agencies; the OSCE, EU, NATO, and ICRC; and Spain’s ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs – is that it represents an opportunity for both career development as well as career transition and is the only training program of its kind that takes place in Spain. The 2022 cohort includes students from 11 different nationalities: from Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and the United States; to Cameroon, Nigeria, Syria, and India, among others.
Over the past 19 years, Helsinki España has successfully organized 25 REACT editions, training over 500 professionals from 70+ countries (including during COVID-19). Attesting to the success of the program, today REACT alumni (the majority of whom are women) are deployed in 85+ countries; operate virtually within all sectors (public, private, NGO) and at all levels (from entry-level to senior management); and represent one of Spain’s main contributions to human-centred international peace and security efforts. Together with Helsinki España staff, diplomatic corps, local authorities, and media, some alumni had come from as far as Nigeria and India to attend the inauguration of the program with USG Lacroix.
USG Lacroix arrived in Spain on Sunday May 29th – on the date the UN commemorates the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers to recognize the service and sacrifice of the more than one million personnel who have served under the blue flag since 1948, and to honour the memory of those peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.
This year, the United Nations will mark the occasion under the theme People Peace Progress: The Power of Partnerships to highlight the importance of partnerships – with Member States, local communities, regional organizations, NGOs and civil society, and within the UN system – in building and sustaining peace and achieving peacekeeping mandates.
Candidates interested in participating in REACT 2023 can already submit their applications. For more information about the program, visit its official profile on ReliefWeb.
The program “A Europe for the Youth”, sponsored by the Community of Madrid, seeks to raise awareness among university students about the importance of Human Rights in the European Union. Throughout its course a number of youth-focused European programs will be presented, and participants will have the chance to analyze the most significant challenges facing the Union. This initiative is designed for people interested in European affairs, who wish to learn alongside experts and professionals, and share their point of view.
If you would like to better understand the functioning of the European Union, and the role and treatment of Human Rights within it, this is your opportunity. Through this program, you will acquire an enriched perspective about the important role of young people in the European theater.
What is the program about? With a total duration of 6 hours – 4h of conferences, followed by 1h on European programs and another dedicated to a final debate – its goal is to allow participants to better understand the current geopolitical situation in the EU, with a focus on the social risks and challenges posed by the (post-)COVID-19 reality. Moreover, the debate will allow students to interact in groups and freely express their opinion on the topics under discussion, and thus gain a better understanding of the contents presented to them.
The event will take place on Wednesday, 16 of February 2022, from 08:30 till 14:30 in the Escuela de Organización Industrial (Av. de Gregorio del Amo, 6, 28040 Madrid).
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In 2022, Jóvenes para Jóvenes, with the support of the Madrid City Council, returns to the city of Madrid, addressing the university youth who find in Human Rights education a tool for the promotion of values related to tolerance, equality and respect for diversity.
“Youth for Youth: Educating in Human Rights and Sustainable Development Goals” gives you the opportunity to train and then sensitize children in schools on issues related to the environment, mental health, gender and other issues related to human rights.
How? The project consists of two phases. During the first, the volunteer receives, for a week, training in Human Rights and SDGs from people and entities that are experts in these issues. The training sessions for this edition will take place between February 21 and 25 in person at the School of Industrial Organization (EOI). In addition, during the training, we will work with the volunteers in the development of tools and skills that, later, allow the sessions in the schools to be executed dynamically and through recreational activities. In addition, the days serve so that the volunteers get to know each other, form links and find the partner with whom they will later attend the school.
Thus, during the second phase, the university youth volunteers go to the classroom of the school that has been assigned to them to work on the contents seen in the training sessions with children or adolescents during 4 sessions.
In Helsinki Spain we have been launching the Youth for Youth project for more than 20 years and helping to create a conscious, active and responsible youth, involved in education for and for Human Rights.
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Youth for Youth returns to Valencia in 2022 with the support of the Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030 in search of active and aware university youth who wants to get involved in a Human Rights education program.
If you want to learn about the Sustainable Development Goals, mental and emotional health, social exclusion, migration, gender and more human rights issues, now is the time! Through the program “Youth for Youth: Educating on Human Rights and Sustainable Development Goals” you will have the opportunity to learn and teach about these issues to children.
What does the program consist of? Once enrolled, the young volunteers will receive a one-week training on human rights and SDGs in the first phase, led by various experts. In Valencia, the training will take place between February 7 and 11 in the University of Valencia and will cover a variety of topics, all of which are related to Human Rights. During the training, students will also acquire tools to adapt this new knowledge to the classroom through dynamics and participatory methodologies. In the second phase, the youth volunteers go in pairs to a classroom in a school in Valencia to transmit the knowledge they have learned in the training to children and teenagers. The couples carry out 4 sessions in the assigned classroom.
En Helsinki España llevamos más de 20 años poniendo en marcha el proyecto de Jóvenes para Jóvenes y ayudando a crear una juventud consciente, activa y responsable, involucrada en la educación por y para los Derechos Humanos.
Want to join us? Sign up here: ✍️