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Cablegate: Unamid Status of Forces Agreement: Signed and Sealed, But

VZCZCXRO7757
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0225/01 0450659
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 140659Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9960
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000225

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UN US SU
SUBJECT: UNAMID STATUS OF FORCES AGREEMENT: SIGNED AND SEALED, BUT
DELIVERED?

REF: KHARTOUM 184

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) UNAMID and GoS officials finally signed a Status of Forces
Agreement on February 9 in Khartoum. The SOFA is comprehensive in
scope and contains all of the core provisions sought by the UN,
including full freedom of movement, unimpeded use of communications,
expedited procedures (visas, permits, licenses) for UNAMID personnel
and contractors to carry out their mandated tasks and provision of
land and services for UNAMID facilities, among other key
arrangements. The lead UN negotiator for the SOFA expressed
satisfaction with the agreement but conceded that practical
implementation - where the GoS regularly fails - will have to be
coordinated at the field level. An early test of the GoS commitment
to the agreement will be whether or not it rapidly grants visas to
the U.S. military and police personnel slated to join UNAMID.


--------------------------
OVERVIEW OF KEY PROVISIONS
--------------------------

2. (SBU) At a February 9 ceremony in Khartoum, AU-UN Hybrid
Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) Joint Special Representative (JSR)
Rodolphe Adada and GoS Minister of Foreign Affairs Deng Alor signed
a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that supplements the legal
framework in which UNAMID operates. It covers the activities of
UNAMID military (including military observers and military liaison
officers), civilian and police personnel, as well as associated
contractors. The SOFA also addresses UNAMID property,
communications capabilities, accoutrements, travel and transport,
privileges and immunities, basing and services provision, safety and
security of UNAMID personnel, uniforms and arms, entry to and exit
from Sudan, liability and dispute settlement, among other topics.

3. (SBU) This cable is not a legal assessment of the SOFA but rather
an initial analysis of select aspects of the agreement and their
potential operational or political implications for UNAMID. The
focus is on those provisions that are most critical to ensuring the
effective functioning of the peacekeeping force and that might have
a direct impact on U.S. contributions (e.g., U.S. military officers
assigned to UNAMID).

-----------------------------
SCOPE AND FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
-----------------------------

4. (SBU) The SOFA clearly extends the scope of its authorities
throughout "Darfur and in other parts of the Sudan including at
points of entry and exit at which UNAMID is operating" (para 2).
The implication - elaborated more concretely in various provisions
throughout the agreement - is that UNAMID personnel (including
contractors) nd euipment will be exempt from the range of
licenses, permits, fees, customs, and other restrictions that
consistently bottlenecked the flow of critical peacekeeping gear and
material into the country in the past.

5. (SBU) The agreement further stipulates that "UNAMID, its members
and contractors, together with their property, equipment,
provisions...vehicles, vessels and aircraft...shall enjoy full and
unrestricted freedom of movement without delay throughout Darfur and
other areas of Sudan where UNAMID is operating...without the need
for travel permits or prior authorization or notification" (para
12). In a February 10 conversation with Poloffs, senior UN legal
negotiator for the SOFA Stadler Trengove expressed satisfaction with
the "travel and transport" provisions, observing that the UN "got
everything it wanted," though he cautioned that the proof of this
would be in actual implementation on the ground. (Note: Both the
Darfur Peace Agreement and UN Security Council Resolution 1769
require freedom of movement for peacekeepers, though the GoS has
repeatedly violated this principle in the past. End Note.)

6. (SBU) Trengove further explained that certain operational
contingencies - such as night flights - were deliberately left out
of the SOFA so as not to bog down negotiations (and therefore
jeopardize other gains made by the UN during negotiations) and allow
such procedures to be worked out between UNAMID and GoS authorities
in Darfur (reftel). It was with this eventuality in mind, he
remarked, that the agreement specifically provides the possibility
for the JSR and GoS to conclude supplemental arrangements (para
59).

----------------------
FREEDOM TO COMMUNICATE

KHARTOUM 00000225 002 OF 003

8. (SBU) Confronting the contentious issue of basing, land and
resource rights, the SOFA holds that the GoS "shall provide without
cost to UNAMID when possible and in agreement with the Joint Special
Representative for as long as may be required such areas for
headquarters, camps or other premises as may be necessary for the
conduct of the operational and administrative activities of
UNAMID..." (para 16). The GoS is further committed to making
available key resources, including water and electricity, "free of
charge, or, where this is not possible, at the most favourable
rate..." (Comment: Availability of adequate land for basing and
access to water or other resources continues to stymie the
deployment of UNAMID, which is of course also plagued by its own
challenges in force and equipment generation and civilian
recruitment. End Comment.)

9. (SBU) The SOFA specifically addresses the status of military
observers and military liaison officers (paras 28 and 36), positions
that may be more likely to be filled, in some cases, by non-African
countries than the national peacekeeping battalions. The relevant
provisions require that UNAMID provide the names of military
observers and liaison officers to the GoS, an arrangement that could
potentially formalize the GoS' ability to "veto" nominees,
especially from Western countries. The SOFA also requires that the
GoS facilitate "without delay and free of charge" multiple entry
visas to all UNAMID military, police and civilian personnel,
including contractors. Military observers and liaison officers are
authorized to carry weapons (para 39) - an obstacle that created
some concern for potential contributions of U.S. military personnel.


-------
COMMENT
-------

10. (SBU) Based on an initial analysis of the document and the
feedback of UN lead legal negotiator Stadler Trengove, the SOFA, on
paper at least, appears to be a sufficiently strong and broad
document to enable UNAMID to carry out its mandated tasks. The
lynchpin, of course, will be its implementation - and the GoS' track
record in this department does not bode favorably. That the
agreement does not define the specifics of certain key procedures -
for instance, those relating to UNAMID movements, night flights or
notification of imported materials (para 15) - leaves open the
possibility that the GoS will exploit these technicalities to impede
the force's effective functioning.

11. (SBU) Equally important in the agreement's application will be
UNAMID's ability to competently and consistently coordinate its
activities with the GoS. Trengove observed that no formal
coordination mechanism currently exists between UNAMID and the GoS
(not to mention within the various arms of the UN in Sudan - UNMIS,
JMST, DDDC, etc.) - a necessity that the international community
should push JSR Adada to establish. Furthermore, implementation
will hinge on accountability; the UN Security Council must
vigilantly monitor the execution of the SOFA and be prepared to
respond decisively to any violations or attempts to undermine the
agreement. The jury is still out on the efficacy of the SOFA, but
the results of UNAMID's efforts to address the recent fighting in
West Darfur and the outcome of the nominations of non-Africans,
including Americans, to civilian and/or military posts may provide
an early litmus test of the GoS' willingness to follow through on

KHARTOUM 00000225 003 OF 003


its commitments. Another key initial test of GoS sincerity will be
whether or not it rapidly grants visas to the eight U.S. military
and ten police personnel slated to join UNAMID.

POWERS

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