REACT Training Program

Interior React 2023 Helsinki España

Rapid expert assistance and
co-operation teams for conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation (REACT)

Background Information

The REACT course consists of a five-week training program focused on peacebuilding and conflict prevention. It is aimed at professionals interested in working on issues related to peace operations and the maintenance of international peace and security.


REACT is the only training course of its kind that takes place in Spain. Since 2003, 26 editions have been taken place and over 500 students have benefit from it. Next edition will take place from May to June 2023.


Provide participants with the knowledge and skills required to understand and analyze the main threats to international peace and security, the circumstances in which armed conflicts arise, their key actors and their impact on civilians.

Improve participants’ skills in conflict prevention, management and resolution as well as the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

Strengthen the competence and confidence of the participants to deal with risk or critical situations in an effective manner, as would be the case when working in peace missions.

Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding: Conceptual Framework

  • Peace and conflict analysis
  • Conflict prevention
  • Conflict management
  • Peacebuilding

International Law: Overview

  • Public International Law: Basic Concepts

  • International Protection of Human Rights

  • International Humanitarian Law

  • International Criminal Law

Protection of Civilians

  • Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
  • Women, Peace and Security. Gender in Operations
  • Children and Armed Conflict
  • Refugees and Displaced Persons

Current Conflicts and Threats to International Peace and Security

  • Asia: Afghanistan, North Korea and Myanmar

  • Middle East: Israel-Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Yemen

  • Sub-Saharan Africa: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, and South Sudan

  • Maghreb: Libya and Western Sahara

  • Eastern Europe and the Caucasus: Ukraine and Kosovo

  • Latin America: Colombia

  • Radicalization, Terrorism and Violent Extremism

  • Transnational Organized Crime

  • Weapons of Mass Destruction

  • Hybrid Threats

  • Climate Change

Key Actors and Their Contribution to International Peace and Security

  • United Nations, Peace and Security Pillar

  • European Union, Common Security and Defense Policy

  • Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

  • African Union, Common Defense and Security

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

  • The Role of Civil Society

Tools for Sustainable Peace

  • Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of Ex-Combatants (DDR)

  • Security Sector Reform (SSR)

  • Accountability and Transitional Justice

  • Elections in Peacebuilding

  • The Role of the Media in Peace and Conflicts

Skills and Competencies

  • Perception of risks and threats. Personal safety.

  • Security and protection procedures for vehicle movement

  • Kidnapping and hostage taking

  • Weapons, mines, improvised explosives and unexploded ordnance

  • Protection of sensitive and classified information

  • First aid in hostile environments

  • Field orientation and communication

  • Off-road driving

  • Working with interpreters

  • Stress management

  • Multicultural Negotiation and Communication

  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense

  • Interacting with the media

  • Professional Development

Watch the video and learn about ModuleVII: Skills and Competencies.

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS 2023 Helsinki España

Operating in Hostile Environments

The REACT course will teach students how to effectively deal with critical or emergency situations while deployed in hostile environments.

This training is aimed at improving the capabilities of the participants to work as a team member in an international field operation.

Next edition will take place from May 29th to June 30th, 2023

General Information ↓


Registration Form ↓

The teaching staff consists of trainers and experts from international organizations (including the United Nations, European Union, OSCE and NATO), diplomats and other civil employees, military personnel, policemen, experts from the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian NGOs, independent consultants and university professors.

The course will use different methodologies, including presentations and lectures, discussions, group work, practical and advanced role-playing sessions, outdoor activities and simulation exercises.

Candidates must possess a high level of English since all classes are taught in English.

El Albir, Alfaz del Pi, Alicante from: May 30th to June 26th, 2022
Los Ángeles de San Rafael, Segovia: from 27th till 1st July (Training HEAT module, Hostile Environment Awareness Training)

Participants who successfully complete the course will receive a diploma from the International University Center for Peace Missions in Helsinki Spain.

  • United Nations (UN)
  • Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
  • Spanish Ministry of Defense
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
  • United States Institute of Peace (USIP)
  • Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA)

The fee to participate in REACT 2023 is 4.950 €.  It includes the following services:

  • Comprehensive five-week REACT course (220h total, 8h/day)
  • Complete five-day Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT)
  • Organized local transport (Madrid-El Albir-Los Ángeles-Madrid)
  • Personal mentoring focused on professional development, networking opportunities with participating organizations, and direct access to UNV recruiters
  • 1.000€ registration fee (non-refundable)
  • All course materials
  • Official diploma

* Meals and accommodation costs are NOT included. Applicants are also responsible for their visa-related costs.

Only a limited number of partial scholarships are available, which cover up to 35% of the total cost.

These scholarships are awarded according to the evaluation of the profile and needs of the candidates, on a first come, first served basis. Therefore early applications are encouraged.

If you are interested in participating in REACT 2023, please send us a copy of the following documents:

  • REACT Registration Form
  • Motivation Letter
  • CV
  • Recent digital photo, passport size
  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of academic transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation on letterhead. Should include date and stamp/signature of the entity/person writing the letter.
  • ORIGINALS MUST be sent by post. It is possible to send them in advance via email. However, it will still be necessary to send the originals as well.
  • English language certificate. In case you do not have one, please notify us and we will arrange a brief telephone interview.
  • If you wish to apply for a partial scholarship, a document proving your annual income together with an official translation into English or Spanish is mandatory.

Applications will be considered in order of arrival until all places are filled. Therefore, we recommend filling out the application form in advance.

All these application documents should be sent to

Deadline for visa candidates: 1st  April, 2023.

Incomplete applications will NOT be considered.

REACT Alumni Testimonials


The experience of participating in the REACT and HEAT courses has been incredible to say the least. Not only did I meet people from all over the world, but I also created friendships and developed connections that have furthered my understanding of the world. An important aspect for me was to understand conflict, a side of society that tends to be avoided, what it entails and how it affects the world. This experience has left me thinking on how I fit into this constantly evolving and unequal world.


REACT has given me enormous knowledge on issues related to conflict, dialogue, international law, international organizations, and harsh environment awareness. These will allow me to address different realities and approaches in the professional and even personal fields. If you ask me to define my experience in REACT, I would without a doubt say that it was CHALLENGING and SATISFACTORY, because this course not only requires a certain level of knowledge on various topics, but also that it demands the maximum of attention and disposition to understand different points of view, even reality in which one disagrees.

Juan Camilo

I would describe this experience as challenging, complementary and enriching. The course, divided into two main sections, allowed me to have beneficial and supplementary professional growth. In the first stage, REACT, the course involved participants and lecturers from all over the world, making the development of the course very dynamic and with a wide perspectives approach. The content of the sessions and their methodology gave me an entirely different point of view to understand the conflicts and, most importantly, how various paths exist towards our involvement in conflict and crisis prevention, resolution, and post-conflict processes.

María del Carmen

REACT and HEAT were incredible experiences that allowed me not only to obtain new knowledge, but also to reinforce it in practice with a great team of speakers and colleagues. I loved being part of a group truly invested in improving the world beginning in themselves. Their intellectual capacity and human qualities showed me that, regardless of where we are from and the diversity of our cultures, it is possible and enriching to work in unison when the objectives are clear and when differences are taken as an opportunity to grow.

Ornella Uberti

Productive Project Officer UN Verification Mission in Colombia. Participating in REACT was to strengthen learning and add new knowledge, in addition to having known incredible people. From this high quality programme I got an overview of current international conflicts, intervention strategies and valuable information for my field work.

Michael Minassie

Ethiopia Journalist. The REACT course provided me with the tools necessary to analyze conflict situations in various contexts and come up with creative ideas on ways of resolving them. The HEAT exercise has equipped me with skills to deal with extreme situations like kidnapping, ambush, fire, to mention but a few. Kudos to Helsinki España for organizing this course given by high profile thinkers and practitioners from various backgrounds and brought together trainees from many countries, thus enriching multiculturalism.

Catherine Alayon

Colombia Researcher at the Truth Commission Trainer in Education on the Risk of Antipersonnel Mines. The REACT course is a learning and cultural exchange experience that delves into the causes and impacts of armed conflicts in the world. In this course I was able to learn about the actors, institutions and challenges of peacekeeping and strengthen my actions for field work. Thanks to this training, I will continue working hand in hand with the communities, children, women, in peace-building processes.

Maria Covarrubias

UNV Field Officer at the UN Verification Mission in Colombia. Being part of REACT meant a huge professional change for me. Mainly, I felt empowered to be able to understand and search for the job I really wanted. It gave me tremendous insights of the humanitarian sector, and I was able to expand my vision as to what it really means to be a humanitarian worker. Additionally, the preparation I gained through the hostile environment awareness training has been an added value. Thanks to REACT, I got the necessary tools to strengthen my CV and successfully managed to get a UNV position in Africa (DRC), and now in Colombia.

Joseph Lengmang

Director-General of the Plateau State Peacebuilding Agency in Nigeria. The PPBA is the first agency of its kind to be established by a sub-national government in Nigeria. We work with a wide range of stakeholders to resolve old conflicts, prevent new ones from happening, and to also promote safer, secure and stable communities in our state. As a pioneer head of this institution, I am proud to say that my appointment into this position was partly in consideration of my participation in the REACT program – a huge investment in human capital development, for which I remain indebted and grateful.

Francesca Maretta

Press and Public Information Officer/Spokesperson, EU Regional Advisory & Coordination Cell for the Sahel (RACC). I have worked in crisis areas for the last 20 years, from the Middle East to Africa to Central Asia and the Caucasus. Although I already had a solid international experience as a journalist and working for the UN prior to applying for REACT, my participation in the programme (2012) allowed me to change my career path and start my journey in EU crisis management. Since then, I have been deployed in missions in Libya, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Georgia and the Sahel, and REACT remains one of the best and most comprehensive courses I have ever attended.

Job Ferrando

General Manager, Turkey/MENA branch at Symborg; Water & Sanitation Expert. I am pleased to say that thanks to Helsinki España and the REACT programme, my life changed for the better. The course ended on the 31st of May (2013), and one week later I already had a job offer from UNV. It materialized in a position as Water and Sanitation (WASH) Engineer at the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). I worked there for over 2 years, applying everything that I learned during REACT. Thanks to the programme I achieved my dream to work for the UN.

Katima del Mar

After my experience in REACT, I have worked for UNDP in Cape Verde, GVC Tunisia, the Spanish Red Cross, and I even started my own project, “Tejidos”, aimed at preventing violent extremism, which led me to represent Spain at the African Union in 2019.

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