Sudan: unilateral sanctions hit innocent harder than political elites, warns UN rights expert

UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and international sanctions, Idriss Jazairy. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

1 December 2015 – A United Nations human rights expert today urged States to review their unilateral coercive measures imposed on Sudan over the past two decades, “given the developments taking place in the country since the imposition of the sanctions regimes.”

“Sudan has been under unilateral coercive measures for two decades without any adaptation to the sustained evolution of the internal context,” said UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and international sanctions, Idriss Jazairy, adding that the evolution of the impact of the measures has only fluctuated subject to the whims of fate.

In a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mr. Jazairy called for the limitation in scope and time of such measures and their linking to achieving specific purposes, at the end of his first official visit to the country to assess their adverse impact on the enjoyment of human rights.

With reference to the recent tightening of international financial transfers with Sudan after the record fines imposed on European banks for having done business with the country, Mr. Jazairy noted that the “signal given by compulsory measures is in contradiction with their proclaimed objectives.”

Further, the expert welcomed the exemptions introduced for vital supplies but indicated that they remain to be activated by lifting constraints on financial transfers needed to make the exemptions effective.

Additionally, Mr. Jazairy suggested the broadening of exemptions and the inclusion of other vital areas “that preserve the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, including full access to health, education and other basic services thus ensuring the right to development and to decent living,” as well as relaxing the restrictions on financial transfers between the Sudanese living in the country and those abroad.

“Sanctions do not affect officials and elites. Their full impact is on innocent populations, and they contribute to social stratification, inter-regional disparities and to the broadening of the black market, as well as to the loss of control over financial transfers,” Mr. Jazairy explained, while noting that Sudan is one amongst few countries still under comprehensive unilateral coercive measures.

He also noted that more studies and investigations are required to distinguish between “the relative impact of [such measures] and of endogenous shortcomings of human rights”, especially to understand situations such as the adverse impacts of unilateral sanctions on human rights within the health sector.

Mr. Jazairy underlined that “the study of the dysfunctions in the economic, social and educational areas in the Sudan show that these have causes related to UCMs as well as to the internal situation.”

Additionally, he deplored the absence of detailed surveys and studies to be undertaken by independent sources, and called for cooperation of a technical nature between OHCHR and relevant UN agencies operating in Sudan, to develop and design parameters to enable the assessment of the separate impact of UCMs on human rights violations.

“A comprehensive assessment of the situation in Sudan is a two-track process that should take into account the domestic and the external factors affecting the overall human rights situation,” said Mr. Jazairy.

The Special Rapporteur called for the “gradual removal of the restrictions imposed on the financial transfers relating to business deals,” and additionally, he suggested engaging international donors and creditors to restructure Sudan’s crippling external debt, in line with resolution No. 539 (2015) of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union calling for ‘comprehensive debt relief, the lifting of sanctions against Sudan and development support for South Sudan.’

Mr. Jazairy met with the Vice-President of Sudan, as well as with Ministers and State officials of a number of Ministries concerned by sanctions, as well as with members of Parliament, business and civil society organizations, trade union and party leaders academics and other experts, on his eight-day visit, from 23-30 November.

Lastly, he also interacted with representatives of UN agencies and regional organizations in addition to members of the diplomatic community from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas present in Sudan, in order to gather relevant information, in order to present a comprehensive report of his visit to the country to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2016.

Special Rapporteurs, who are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization, are appointed by and report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.


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