Why African leaders want US to lift sanctions,on the Sudan

23Mar 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Why African leaders want US to lift sanctions,on the Sudan

African heads of state and governments summit have recently adopted a declaration calling upon, not only the US to lift all sanctions and restrictions imposed on the Sudan,

but likewise upon all states of the world not to recognise or apply these measures and to effectively counter them as appropriate.

Guided by the objectives of the African Union (AU) to achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries, and bearing in mind the negative socio-economic impacts and human costs of the American’s unilateral coercive measures imposed on the Sudan since 1997, particularly on the civilian population and cognizant of Sudan tireless effort in peace making locally and regionally.

Such courageous African position affords valuable impetus to the ongoing mass rallying, spearheaded by a coalition of Sudanese civil rights organisations and activists, in Sudan and Diaspora, to mobilise 100,000 signatories for a petition to the US administration, to promptly lift this stifling and politically motivated sanctions on Sudan, which actually deprive the whole nation of basic and life saving health care.

According to doctors and scientists in Khartoum, these sanctions have become increasingly complex and difficult to navigate over the years, making it tough to import equipment even such basic items as sutures.

They have struggled to import supplies and conduct, research that could eventually save lives. They often make do with old or inadequate technology, rely on black-market imports, or simply go without. Inevitably it is ordinary citizens who suffer the consequences.

Such grim reality has already been highlighted by a UN top official, the special rapporteur on human rights and international sanctions, Idriss Jazairy, who in a press conference called for revising these sanctions.

Stressing their full impact on innocent populations, and how they do contribute to social stratification, interregional disparities and to the broadening of the black-market, as well as to the loss of control over financial transfers. More importantly, Idriss called for setting a timeframe to lift US sanctions on Sudan.


Economic sanctions run contrary to the spirit of human rights, as they explicitly and implicitly, expose the ordinary citizens of the sanctioned country to considerable suffering. The ensuring scale of such suffering amounts to the crime of collective punishment.

The human right council adopted resolution on 26 September 2014, on human rights and unilateral coercive measures.
The resolution stresses that unilateral coercive measures and legislation are contrary to international law, international humanitarian law, the charter and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among states, and highlights that on long-term, these measures may result in social problems and raise humanitarian concerns in the states targeted.

To that effect the UN General Assembly Resolution ), reaffirming that developed countries should refrain from threatening or applying trade and financial restriction, blockades, embargoes and other economic sanctions, incompatible with the provision of the Charter of the UN and in violation of undertakings contracted multilaterally and bilaterally.
Further under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, collective punishment is a war crime. Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states:

“No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed.” And collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”

The UN General Assembly, Resolution 2131 (xx), 21 Dec. 1965, states that: “ No state may use or encourage the use of economic, political or any other type of measures to coerce another state in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights or to secure from it advantages of any kind.”

Note citing here this very resolution was adopted without any vote against and with only one abstention.

Paradoxically, ‘Genocide Convention’ protects what could be described as a ‘collective right to life and would prohibit deliberate starvation of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group of committed with intent to destroy the group, as it would then be subsumed into the definition of genocide.

It is an irony of fate that the prohibition of genocide applies in time of peace and war. It makes no sense that something illegal during war is not only legal but a preferred tool to pursue aggressive foreign policy agenda in peace time.

Adding insult to injury the US introduced extraterritorial sanctions which in essence violate the legal equity of states and principles of respect for and dignity of national sovereignty and non intervention in the internal affairs of the state nations, and deprive them of their right to development and self determination.

The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against the Sudan had been tightened and its extraterritorial implementation had also been strengthened through the imposition of unprecedented fines, totaling USD11 billion against 38 banks, among them French bank BNP Paribas for carrying out transactions with Sudan and other countries.


For more than two decades, Sudan has left no stone unturned trying to normalize relations with the US, however, it makes two to make a tango: Foreign policy hawks in the successive US administrations, regrettably continue to block all potential routes towards a real rapprochement with the Sudan.

The US keeps on turning a blind eye to Sudan’s ongoing constructive efforts in maintaining peace and security in the region.

Sudanese government’s significant and tangible assistance to regional –al Qaida and recently ISIS, Houthi and Boko Haram operations, not only continue to fall on deaf ears in Washington, the latter continues shamelessly, nevertheless to link Sudan with terrorism, to justify the extension of its regime of sanctions every year for the last two decades.

Interestingly on last October 2015, the financial action task force (FATF) has removed Sudan from the list of countries with strategic deficiencies in their legal and regulatory framework for combating money laundering and terrorism. Whereby Sudan will no longer be subject to FATF’s monitoring under its ongoing global AML/CFT compliance process.

Doung Bandow, the senior fellow at the Cato Institute (Washington NGO), appealing for sanctions against Sudan to be scrapped altogether, pointed out that the US sanctions have remained in place, and even though, the State Department acknowledges that Sudan’s cooperation in efforts to limit the reach in Africa of groups linked to al Qaeda.

More revealing however, was landmark testimony before the Congress in 2009 of General J Scott Gration, the US’s Presidential envoy to Sudan, where he called for Sudan’s removal from the US’s state department’s state sponsor of terrorism list.

The general noted that unequivocally there was no evidence for Sudan’s inclusion on the list which he called a political-rather than a national security-related) decision; reminding the congress that the CIA has already referred to Sudan’s strong record on counterterrorism co-operation as having saved American lives.

Despite all the above rationale, the mind boggling question remains, why should the Sudan remain amongst the few countries that are still under comprehensive unilateral coercive sanctions?
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Sudan

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