Removing U.S. Sanctions Placed on Sudan

Some of the economic and trade sanctions the U.S. placed on Sudan 20 years ago are to be lifted October 12th, in the belief that Sudan has improved human rights and made progress in fighting terrorism.

The U.S. State Department came to this decision after a 16-month long diplomatic effort with Sudan, claiming that Sudan maintained a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas, improved humanitarian access throughout Sudan, and maintained cooperation with the U.S. to address the threat of terrorism.

Although Sudan has made progress in these key areas, the U.S. is prepared to use targeted sanctions if Sudan fails to continue its progress or regresses on the progress it has already made.

The specific sanctions being revoked are Sections 1 and 2 of Executive Order 13067 from 1997, and also all of Executive Order 13412, from 2006 while Executive Order 13400 will remain in place.

The U.S. first imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997 which included a trade embargo and blocking the government’s assets. The U.S. imposed these sanctions in response to Sudan’s continued support of international terrorism, and the prevalence of human rights violations, including slavery and the denial of religious freedom.

In 2006, sanctions were expanded through E.O. 13400 to target specific individuals in Sudan who were involved in the Darfur conflict. E.O. 13412 was created to prohibit transactions related to oil, gas, and the petro-chemical industries in Sudan.

In addition to Sudan’s reported cooperation with the U.S., it has made a commitment to the U.S. that it will not pursue arms deals with North Korea.

The decision to lift the sanctions on Sudan comes a month after the U.S. removed Sudan from the travel restrictions list in the belief that Sudan was cooperating fully with U.S. requirements.

Human rights activists warn that Sudan continues to maintain ties to terror groups, and Sudan remains one of only three U.S. designated state sponsors of terrorism, which prohibits Sudan from buying arms from the U.S. or receiving American aid. While most regional states have supported Sudan’s removal, others, most notably Libya, have recently complained Sudan remains part of a network intent on supporting terror within their borders.

There is concern from rights activists and some lawmakers about President Trump’s decision to permanently lift sanctions on Sudan because it has not made progress on human rights and that it will prolong Omar al-Bashir’s rule. These activists believe that by providing relief to Sudan, it legitimizes the Sudanese government’s crimes against humanity and war crimes. Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir remains wanted on international war crimes charges.

The progress that has been made by Sudan has been minimal, evidenced by Sudanese security forces firing on unarmed protesters at the Kalma refugee camp in South Darfur on September 22nd, killing at least 6 and wounding 28 others.

Targeted sanctions on specific individuals remains an option for the U.S. moving forward, but history shows sanctions from the past two decades were not very successful at improving the Sudanese government’s behavior, despite U.S. claims to the contrary.