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Cablegate: High-Level Committee Meeting On the Implementation of The

VZCZCXRO1295
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1567/01 2961048
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 221048Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2147
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 001567

DEPT FOR A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN AND DCHA/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: HIGH-LEVEL COMMITTEE MEETING ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE
JOINT COMMUNIQUE

1. (U) Summary: On October 21, the high-level committee that
oversees the implementation of the Joint Communique on the
Facilitation of Humanitarian Activities in Darfur met at the
Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs in Khartoum. The meeting was
attended by U.S. Charge d'Affaires Alberto Fernandez and a
USAID/DCHA representative.

2. (SBU) Participants acknowledged progress in the dissemination
and revision of the General Directory of Procedures and pressed the
Humanitarian Affairs Commission (HAC) to continue to ensure that
state-level authorities in Darfur are implementing these procedures
to the letter and spirit of the Joint Communique. Key positive
outcomes of the meeting included a clarification of HAC's policy on
NGO travel notifications and a commitment from HAC to extend the
Moratorium on Restrictions next month, well in advance of its
expiration in January 2009. However, the HAC continued to emphasize
what is at-best an opaque process instead of tangible progress in
removing bureaucratic obstructions and improving humanitarian
conditions in Darfur. End Summary.

BACKGROUND
----------

3. (U) On October 21, the High Level Committee (HLC) that oversees
the implementation of the Joint Communique met for the ninth time at
the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs in Khartoum. This was the
first meeting of the HLC since August as the September meeting was
delayed. The meeting was co-chaired by the Minister of Humanitarian
Affairs, Harun Run Lual, and the acting U.N. Resident and
Humanitarian Coordinator, Chrysantus Ache. Attendees included
representatives from the Government of National Unity (GNU)
Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
European Commission and the United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA). U.S. Charge
d'Affaires Alberto Fernandez and a representative from USAID/DCHA
attended the meeting in the role of donor observers. The U.S. was
asked to be the donor representative for this meeting even though it
is the E.C.'s turn since neither the E.C. or U.K. Ambassadors were
available.

PROCESS OVER PROGRESS
---------------------

4. (U) The Tripartite Joint Technical Committee (TJTC) presented a
progress report highlighting the following:

- The TJTC has met 7 times since the last HLC meeting in August and
50 times since the Joint Communique in March 2007.

- Ongoing efforts to hold workshops and training sessions in the
three Darfur states on the General Directory of Procedures (GDP),
most recently in Geneina.

- Visits from the Khartoum TJTC to formally launch the state TJTCs
in Nyala and Geneina.

- Ongoing efforts to revise the General Directory of Procedures,
including revising the text and clarifying existing procedures.

- Near-completion of Phase I of the Fast Track database to monitor
the processing of visas, travel notifications and other
administrative procedures for NGOs; expectation that testing for
Phase II of the system will begin in November.

5. (U) The TJC also presented a list of actions completed by the
Joint Procedure Center (JPC), which was set up to "streamline"
bureaucratic requirements for international NGOs. The list included
numbers of entry/exist visas issued in 2008, travel notifications
processed, flight permissions given to the U.N. and I.C.R.C., and
registrations completed for international and national NGOs.

6. (U) CDA Fernandez noted that while there have been positive
developments due to the efforts of the TJTC, the U.S. continues to
see a mixed picture of overall progress. The litany of numbers
given by the TJTC doesn't give a full picture since NGO requests
that have been pending indefinitely or rejected were absent from the
report. Additionally, while some impediments have eased, new
restrictions often arise that are beyond the scope of existing
agreements and procedures - such as restrictions on fuel deliveries
to Kalma camp. In other cases, restrictions have been in direct
contravention of existing agreements and procedures, such as denying
NGO travel permits when the Joint Communique specifically references
that NGOs need only notify the HAC of travel outside of Darfur state
capitals.

KHARTOUM 00001567 002 OF 003

7. (U) Further, CDA Fernandez pressed the need to ensure that
progress is uniform across the three Darfur states. The CDA noted
that while incidents between humanitarians and the HAC have been
relatively limited in West and North Darfur recently, things have
not gone as smoothly in South Darfur where negative and often
punitive actions by the state HAC and Governor's office have
contaminated the "cooperative spirit" resulting from the efforts of
the TJTC and High Level Committee.

8. (U) Following the CDA's comments, the Acting RC/HC Ache
reiterated the need to implement both the letter and spirit of the
Joint Communique through robust monitoring in the HLC, including
identifying pending cases and rejections from the HAC instead of a
laundry list of numbers. Ache also noted that there have been
recent cases brought to the U.N. of targeting and impediments put on
specific NGOs, such as HAC's recent closure of International Rescue
Committee (IRC) centers for women, child and youth centers and rule
of law programs in Darfur.

9. (U) In response to the CDA's and acting RC/HC's points, the HAC
Commissioner noted that the HAC is implementing workshops for the
three Darfur governors, in partnership with national security and
relevant line ministries to ensure that policies agreed at the
federal level are understood and implemented at the state level.
Regarding the issue of travel permissions vs. notifications, the HAC
Commissioner noted that the Government was trying to ensure the
security of NGOs, but agreed that HAC would only give security
advice; if an NGO chooses not to heed that advice, the HAC should
not be held responsible. [Note: this represents a significant
policy clarification, since HAC's ability to deny travel permits to
NGOs is frequently used to restrict humanitarian access to civilians
in hotspot and rebel-controlled areas. End note]. OCHA suggested
sending a guidance note to state-level HAC authorities on this
important clarification; the HAC Commissioner agreed to follow this
up.

10. (U) The HAC Commissioner was decidedly more defensive on the
IRC issue, stating that IRC should have dealt with the matter on a
technical level before involving donors and the U.N. [Note: IRC had
previously confirmed to USAID that it completed all the necessary
procedures in a timely manner and had been dealing with the HAC on
these issues for several months before finally going to the donors.
End note]. The HAC Commissioner then further suggested that
political involvement on these issues from the U.S. puts the IRC and
other organizations at greater risk since they will be seen as
agents of U.S. foreign policy. CDA Fernandez responded that the HAC
can not have it both ways: when IRC praised the cooperation of the
HAC to the U.S. a year ago, the HAC happily accepted the kudos and
used it to tout its commitment to humanitarian principles to the
international community; if it is willing to accept the positive it
should also be willing to acknowledge the other side of political
involvement.

11. (U) In his closing remarks, the HAC Commissioner also noted
that he intends to extend the Moratorium of Restrictions on
Humanitarian Agencies for another year next month, well before its
scheduled expiration in January 2009. [Note: last year, the HAC let
the extension of the Moratorium come down to the last minute,
prompting NGOs to consider shutting down programs in anticipation of
more significant restrictions. End note.] As he was departing, CDA
Fernandez pressed the Minister and HAC Commissioner a third time on
solving the IRC issue. He noted that the US Embassy had just
submitted a diplomatic note to the MFA complaining about harassment
of the NGO and progress on humanitarian access was one major issue
Secretary Rice had raised with VP Taha in New York last month.

COMMENT
-------

12. (SBU) As in previous meetings, the HAC continues to attempt to
limit the focus of the HLC to a procedural mechanism meant to
monitor other procedures - death by a thousand processes.
Nonetheless, the HLC does provide a useful venue for tabling issues
of concern regarding humanitarian access and bureaucratic
restrictions, as indicated by the clarification of the travel
notification policy and the HAC's pledge to extend the Moratorium on
restrictions. Sustained high-level engagement from the rotating
donor chair will be necessary to ensure that the HLC maintains its
relevancy.

13. (SBU) Another tentatively positive outcome of the HLC was the
apparent commitment by the HAC to augment efforts at bringing
state-level authorities in-line with the letter and spirit of the

KHARTOUM 00001567 003 OF 003


Joint Communique. As usual, the devil is in the implementation, and
the HAC has a long history of playing good cop/bad cop between the
federal and state levels. USAID will continue to monitor this
closely.

14. (SBU) Overall, the improvements noted above must be considered
against the backdrop of continued NGO harassment, arbitrary program
closures and ongoing violence and displacement within the past few
months. The Government of Sudan still apparently believes that it
can masquerade process as progress on humanitarian issues, dodging
any real effort to improve humanitarian conditions for the people of
Darfur.

FERNANDEZ

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