UN Security Council renews Sudan sanctions over Khartoum's objections

Punitive measures date back to early in the civil war in Darfur region, but Sudan's UN ambassador says they are 'no longer relevant to the magnificent reality on the ground'

A Sudanese rebel from the Justice and Equality Movement in Ulang village, Darfur, in 2004. The sanctions on Sudan were first imposed during the civil war in the restive region. Getty
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The UN has renewed sanctions on Sudan for a year, ignoring Khartoum's calls for the “immediate” and unconditional lifting of the punitive measures.

The 15-member Security Council on Wednesday backed the renewal of the mandate of a panel of experts responsible for monitoring and enforcing the sanctions until March 2024.

Thirteen council members voted in favour while Russia and China abstained.

Sudan has repeatedly called on the world body to remove the sanctions and an arms embargo imposed in 2005 during the conflict in the country's restive Darfur region.

In a letter sent to the Security Council last month, the country's UN ambassador Al-Harith Mohamed said sanctions were “no longer relevant to the magnificent reality on the ground in Darfur today, compared to the situation in 2005”.

“Sudan will accept nothing less than the immediate lifting of these sanctions without conditions or benchmarks,” said Mr Mohamed.

Negotiations between council members proved difficult, owing to divergent views over the effectiveness of the sanctions.

China's deputy UN representative Geng Shuang said the sanctions were “outdated and should be lifted because things have improved on the ground”.

As a compromise, Gabon, Mozambique and Ghana — a group called A3 — and the UAE proposed introducing a sunset clause for the sanctions, changing them from open-ended to time-bound.

However, the UAE's ambassador to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh, expressed regret that the proposal for a sunset clause was adopted for 18 months and not for a year as suggested.

Ms Nusseibeh pointed out that “the A3 and the UAE voted in favour of this text in the spirit of compromise and in order to recognise that some progress has been made”.

She said sanctions were not supposed to “last forever” but they were simply “tools intended for maintaining or restoring international peace and security”.

A formal peace agreement between the warring sides in Darfur was signed in 2020.

That same year, the US delisted Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, giving Khartoum access to international lending institutions and economic development resources.

However, the African country was plunged into chaos in 2021 when a military coup removed the western-backed government and replaced it with a junta, bringing a halt to international aid.

Updated: March 09, 2023, 3:11 PM