Technical and Scientific Police manager in Abidjan

“My mission within ONUCI (United Nations Operation in Ivory Coast) was to help to rebuild Ivorian police forces in general and the scientific police in particular. I put a lot of time and work into the training of police officers in particular. Another aspect of my work was to create a database of offenders, by means of which we managed to arrest a repeat offender. This was a major achievement.”

When he left for Ivory Coast, Julien, 41, was not expecting to change the world. But during his mission, which lasted from September 2009 to March 2011, he was able to share his know-how, advance matters in one area and play a part, albeit a modest one, in the reconstruction of the country and in peacekeeping. “All this really gives you a boost. Working with local authorities and implementing solutions adapted to their means and their needs gave me huge satisfaction. I also realised that Swiss police officers are greatly appreciated for their fair-minded approach and for the quality of their training.”

Such successes are also accompanied by difficult events. “The countries in which we operate have a very fragile equilibrium. An environment described as peaceful can very quickly degenerate into a crisis situation. This is what happened in Ivory Coast. I was confronted with atrocities.”

An extraordinary human adventure

“A mission of this kind leaves its marks. Working together with colleagues and partners from all over the world, steeping oneself in the country and its culture, working together with local police forces and meeting great people whose everyday problems are unimaginable in our country are the most satisfying aspects of my mission. I saw the experience first and foremost as a human adventure, an extraordinary adventure.”

Expert advice

  • Be modest and remember that you are just a small cog in a huge machine. Make sure that you do not become a spanner in the works.
  • Be imaginative and patient. The things that you take for granted may not be quite as simple as you think in the country that you are going to.
  • Keep a maximum of contact with your friends and family in Switzerland. Returning to Switzerland is a new challenge because you will have changed and so will your perception of things. Try to make sure that the transition is not too abrupt by keeping solid bearings such as contact with your family and friends.