Lifting US Sanctions on Sudan: Rationale and Reality

Edited by Emile LeBrun and Claire Mc Evoy

In October 2017 the United States lifted three of the most significant components of its sanctions regime against Sudan as part of a shift in bilateral relations with Khartoum.

Lifting US Sanctions on Sudan: Rationale and Reality describes the specific sanctions changes, their stated rationales, and their documented and likely future effects on Sudan’s internal conflicts, particularly in Darfur. It finds that although the sanctions themselves had a broad impact on Sudan’s economy, they did not consistently hinder key regime functions, including government institutions’ ability to transact in US dollars, obtain US-origin goods and services, and acquire military and dual-use materiel.

The sanctions-easing process has improved the Sudanese government’s immediate adherence to its international humanitarian obligations in Darfur and the Two Areas, and its dialogue with diplomats and humanitarians. In the longer term, however, the easing of sanctions effectively reflects international acceptance of Sudan’s longstanding strategy of seeking militarized counter-insurgency solutions to its internal conflicts while largely ignoring efforts to achieve negotiated settlements. On the ground this approach is currently reflected in the government’s neglect of formal peace processes in favour of moving directly to ‘post-conflict’ civilian disarmament—which is being implemented by a militia, in violation of the UN arms embargo, and being used as a counter-insurgency instrument—and placing pressure on internally displaced persons to return home. The easing of sanctions is likely to legitimate these tactics.

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Keywords: HSBA Sanctions