TRAINING SPOTLIGHT: Intercultural Communication


Intercultural communication skills in civilian crisis management missions represent the ability to communicate with people from different backgrounds. Moreover, intercultural communication is recognised as an integral part of crisis management at many levels. As an integrated approach to crisis management became increasingly established, it created a need for missions to interact with several diverse actors. Therefore, the abilities and skills to overcome communication barriers as a result of heterogeneous actors in crisis situations are essential for the smooth functioning of operations.

Pursuing a people centred approach in civilian crisis management activities requires consideration to the quality of communication skills amongst mission personnel. In their tasks, interaction with local populations occurs on a regular basis. In order to fulfill the mission’s mandate, peace operations must be effective and relevant in the face of the changing context and nature of the conflict. Thus, it is essential to foster skills that enable constructive interaction in the intercultural settings of crisis management. Gaining a deeper understanding of intercultural communication in peace operations is a persistent challenge for peacebuilding missions.

Civilian crisis management encompasses macro-level dynamics but also dynamics stemming from orientations of individuals, interpersonal and intergroup relations and social systems through their role in influencing interaction. Crisis management experts’ views have an influence on the implementation of operations. The influence of field-based peacebuilders is not only evident through the implementation of their tasks but also in the interpretation and translation of instructions that they put into action. Furthermore, the on-the-ground personnel’s actions shape local people’s views on international peacebuilding more than written mandates or media reports.

Our course on Intercultural communication equip participants with skills to overcome challenges arising from communicating with parties that operate from a different cultural frame of reference and adhere to different norms and values. We use cases that closely relate to the professional practice of the participants; skills that matter within international mission organisation, but also in the wider environment of the crisis management mission. The primary objective is to provide participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to operate effectively, whilst remaining sensitive in communication.