The lifting of economic sanctions by the United States of America on the Republic of Sudan is in process. On 13 January 2017, US President Obama signed an Executive Order “Recognizing Positive Actions by the Government of Sudan and Providing for the Revocation of Certain Sudan-Related Sanctions”. This Order provides for the revocation of the sanctions provisions in Executive Orders 13067 and 13412, effective on July 12, 2017, “if the Government of Sudan sustains positive actions it has taken over the last 6 months”.

In conjunction with the new E.O., the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced an amendment to the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations (SSR), 31 C.F.R. part 538. This amendment, which will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register, will immediately authorize all transactions prohibited by the SSR, as well as by Executive Orders 13067 and 13412. As a result, U.S. persons will generally be able to transact with individuals and entities in Sudan, and the property of the Government of Sudan subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be unblocked. See OFAC Factsheet of 13 January 2017 for details.

Some caution is deserved at this stage, as it seems that the modalities for the lifting of the sanctions still need to be clarified. Also, it must be noted that the changes will not impact Sudanese individuals or entities blocked pursuant to E.O. 13400 of April 27, 2006, “Blocking Property of Persons in Connection With the Conflict in Sudan’s Darfur Region,” or any OFAC sanctions authorities other than the SSR, E.O. 13067, and E.O. 13412. The property and interests in property of persons designated pursuant to E.O. 13400 and other E.O.s remain blocked. Additionally, this regulatory change will not eliminate the need to comply with other applicable provisions of law, including the Export Administration Regulations (15 C.F.R. parts 730 through 774) administered by the Bureau of Industry and Security of the Department of Commerce. Also, UN Security Council sanctions targeting certain Sudanese individuals remain in force, and the fate of certain other unilateral sanctions on Sudan (such as those implemented by Canada) remains to be assessed.

This development has been welcomed by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who expressed her appreciation of President Obama, as well as her hopes “that the in-coming administration will consider permanent revocation of the sanctions in Executive Orders 13067 and 13412 and further work towards granting debt relief to the Republic of Sudan, so that the country can begin a new chapter of economic reconstruction and prosperity” (see the full AU statement of 14 January 2017). The US sanctions on Sudan had been in force since 1997, and had been expanded in 2006 in relation to the conflict in Darfur. Their adverse impact on human rights of the Sudanese people had been highlighted inter alia in 2016 by the UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures (see his Report dated 4 August 2016, A/HRC/33/48/Add.1).

In her statement, the AU Chairperson also “strongly encourage[d] the Government and the armed movements to urgently return to the negotiation table with a more conciliatory approach towards resolving their political differences in the interest of the people of Sudan. In this regard, she calls on all parties to cooperate fully with the efforts of the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to reach a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and a Permanent Ceasefire and participate in an inclusive political process, which will guarantee the Sudanese people the long awaited peace”.


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Images: Top: Central Bank of Sudan, Khartoum, 2003, at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cbank.sudan.JPG?uselang=fr
Bottom: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in 2014, US Department of State photo, at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nkosazana_Dlamini-Zuma_2014.png?uselang=fr