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.



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