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Swiss create civilian rapid reaction force

Ballot counting in Kosovo: Switzerland is able to send election monitors abroad at a moment's notice

(Keystone)

Switzerland is to maintain a pool of experts in politics, law and the media so it can deploy their skills at a moment's notice in trouble spots around the world. The move is part of efforts to play an active role in international peacekeeping.

The government approved the creation of the so-called "Swiss expert Pool for Civilian Peace Building" on Monday. It said the aim was make it possible to dispatch up to 100 civilian experts to an international peacekeeping mission at short notice.

The foreign ministry said the move was in line with Switzerland's increasing involvement on missions abroad. "Switzerland wants to make a significant contribution to meeting the demand for civilian personnel for peacekeeping," it said in a statement.

The "pool" comprises experts in democracy, policing, the rule of law and human rights, as well as media specialists and election observers. Under the plan, a reserve of experts is to be prepared for secondment to missions abroad.

The foreign ministry said the plan would "offer Swiss citizens with a suitable profile and professional background the opportunity to work for a fixed period... on an international peacekeeping mission".

It added that the expert pool would be seconded mostly to multilateral missions run by the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. But it said the experts would also be available for ad hoc missions.

The plan also envisages training specialists to succeed those currently in the pool. A special introductory course is to be held next year, with the focus on training and mission preparation.

This year, Switzerland has deployed experts in a total of 16 countries. The largest contingents are in Kosovo and Bosnia.

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