Operation SOPRANO

Operation SOPRANO is the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) engagement in the United Nations (UN) Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS). It is the military part of Canada’s “whole-of-government” mission in South Sudan.

Task Force South Sudan

Task Force South Sudan has 10 CAF members. They serve as staff officers and military liaison officers at UNMISS Force Headquarters in Juba. They also serve in other places throughout the Republic of South Sudan. Task Force South Sudan CAF members are technical experts in military planning and operations.

Mission context

UNMISS and its mandate

UNMISS was established on July 9, 2011. It was formed under UN Security Council Resolution 1996 (2011). This falls within Chapter VII of the UN Charter. UNMISS ran for an initial period of one year. The mission mandate is reviewed on a yearly basis. It is extended as required.

The primary elements of the UNMISS mandate are to:

  • protect civilians
  • monitor and investigate human rights violations
  • create the conditions to provide humanitarian aid
  • support implementing a cease-hostilities agreement

UNMISS personnel

UNMISS may have up to 17,000 military personnel. These include:

  • liaison officers and staff officers
  • up to 2,001 civilian police
  • an appropriate number of civilians

At present, the mission includes military personnel and police from 63 nations.

Independence in South Sudan

On July 9, 2011, South Sudan became an independent republic. Its capital is Juba, on the White Nile. It separated from the Republic of Sudan through a referendum held from January 9 to 15, 2011. During that period, 98.83 percent of people who voted chose independence.

There were six years of reconciliation and negotiation that led up to the referendum. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement came first. The Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army signed this agreement in 2005. It ended more than 20 years of civil war.

The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) soon stepped in. It kept watch as the two sides carried out the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  This process took place over the six years that led up to the referendum. The UN Security Council launched the new mission—UNMISS—after the referendum.  The Council decided that the events in South Sudan were still a threat to peace and security in the region.

Former CAF operations in the Sudans

The CAF has been active in Sudan and South Sudan since June 15, 2004. This is the date that Operation SAFARI began. Twelve groups of CAF members served with the United Nations Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS). UNAMIS later became UNMIS. Most served in areas away from mission headquarters as United Nations Military Observers. Some were specialized staff advisors at UNMIS Headquarters in Juba and Khartoum.

In 2005, the African Union sent a peace mission to Sudan. The mission’s focus was in the western province of Darfur. The CAF supported the mission through Operation AUGURAL. It sent armoured vehicles on loan to three of the African Union groups.  In 2008, the United Nations-African Union hybrid mission in Darfur (UNAMID) began.  To support it, the CAF began Operation SATURN.

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