8 August 2011 - The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) signed a memorandum of understanding today with its host governmentto legally advance its operation according to international treaties.
Deng Alor, South Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,described the Status of Forces Agreement (SoFA) signing as a milestone, urging all government institutions and the public to fully cooperate with the new mission in building peace and stability.
"This agreement between us is very important because it regulates work between the government of the Republic of South Sudan and the United Nations," the minister said. "And it organizes the relationship between various government institutions and UNMISS."
Mr. Alor added that his government would fully cooperate with UNMISS in assisting South Sudanese people and rebuilding the new nation.
"We are going to mobilize our people and enlighten them so that they understand this agreement between us and the mandate of the mission," he said.
UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNMISS chief Hilde F. Johnson said the mission's sole responsibility was to support and work with South Sudan "unlike the previous UN mission, whose mandate was to monitor the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement."
UNMISS was established by Security Council resolution 1996 with a military of about 7,000 strong on 8 July, to take effect the next day when South Sudan declared independence.
Explaining SoFA commitments by both parties -- South Sudan and UNMISS – Ms. Johnson said, "The government of South Sudan has accepted to implement in relation to the UN personnel in the country the conventions on the privileges and immunities to all United Nations (missions)."
"This is a convention that is in effect everywhere we operate in as UN missions, and it's a convention of 1946," she added.
The agreement also committed UNMISS to work with impartiality and integrity in fulfilling its mandate as envisioned in the Security Council resolution. And it must ensure that UN personnel fully respected South Sudanese laws and regulations, having due regard to their functional immunity and processes agreed upon in the agreement.
Under a further provision, UNMISS must ensure that peacekeepers operate under internationally agreed principles and conventions, including Geneva conventions.
To read the SOFA agreement, click here