Africans in Sudan Must Be Saved From Anti-People American Sanctions

By Swaib K Nsereko, University of Gezira- Sudan/Don at Islamic University in Uganda

Khartoum, the capital of Sudan hosts the regional specialist center for heart surgery. The facility has since been described as ‘a beacon of excellence for Africa.’ Its services are matched with those in Europe and the United Sates.

The Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery was set up by Italians with some funding from the Sudanese government in 2007. By today, its patients come from 11 African countries—Sudan, Central African Republic, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. They are often extreme cases screened by specialists.

Unfortunately, this center today faces a serious retardation in quality of service—thanks to the now nearly twenty-year American blanket economic sanctions against the people of Sudan.

According to doctors and scientists in Khartoum, these sanctions have become increasingly complex and difficult to navigate over the years. They are making it tough to import equipment—even basic ones like sutures. African scientists are struggling to research into what could eventually save lives. Apparently, the available technology has become obsolete. But the consequences are squarely resting upon ordinary citizens and not the political class.

America’s intentions
The key goal of these sanctions since 1997 was for Washington to pressure Khartoum to stop making war against its people. This was when the conflict in South Sudan between Khartoum and the Sudan people’s liberation army (SPLA) was at its peak. After the regional Nairobi comprehensive peace agreement of 2005, Washington pledged among others to lift the sanctions in case Khartoum peacefully ceded South Sudan. Whereas Khartoum and other regional allies like Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia delivered on this—leading to a 2011 declaration of the world’s youngest nation in Juba today, America maintained the anti-people economic sanctions.

With continuing efforts toward resolving internal strife, Khartoum’s assistance to regional anti-al-Qaida and recently against ISIS, Houthi and Boko Haram operations are also vivid. It hence baffles critical minds to see these sanctions still in place unless a sinister objective is hidden behind them.

AU and UN Diplomacy
In Africa, the 26th African Union head of states and governments summit adopted a declaration calling upon, not only Washington to lift all sanctions on Sudan, but also all other states not to recognize or apply—but to effectively counter them.

Idriss Jazairy, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and International Sanctions, has since called for revising these sanctions, owing to their impact on innocent populations. He notes the measures are contributing to social stratification, inter-regional disparities as well as to the loss of control over financial transfers. He thus, suggests for setting a time frame for lifting them.

Appearing before, the Congress in 2009, General J. Scott Gration, the US presidential Envoy to Sudan, recommended the removal of Sudan from the US state sponsor of terrorism list. He noted that there was "no evidence" for Sudan's inclusion on the list which he called a "political” and not a national security-related decision. He also reminded Congress that the CIA has already referred to Sudan's strong record on counterterrorism cooperation as having "saved American lives".

Apparently, in October last year, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) removed Sudan from the list of countries with strategic deficiencies in their legal and regulatory framework for combating money laundering and terrorism, whereby—thereby declaring Sudan to no longer be subjected to FATF's monitoring under the ongoing global AML/CFT compliance process.

The International Legal Tools
A Human Rights Council resolution of 26 September, 2014 proscribes unilateral coercive measures and legislation, stressing, they are contrary to international law and international humanitarian law. Such measures also contravene the Charter and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among states, and highlights that on long-term, these they may result in social problems and raise humanitarian concerns in the states targeted.

consequent upon this, the UN General Assembly Resolution 44/215 (December 22, 1989), reaffirmed that developed countries should refrain from threatening or applying trade and financial restrictions, blockades, embargoes, and other economic sanctions, incompatible with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and in violation of undertakings contracted multilaterally and bilaterally.

The UN General Assembly, Resolution 2131 (XX), 21 December, 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". This particular resolution was adopted without any vote against, and with only one abstention.

US threat to African countries
Perhaps driven by a hegemonic sense, the US has put in place an ‘extraterritorial sanctions’ provision—by which, in essence, it violates the legal equality of states, and principles of respect for and dignity of national sovereignty and non-intervention in the internal affairs of the state nations. By this, Washington deprives emerging nations of their right to development and self-determination.

The economic, commercial and financial blockade against Sudan reinforces America’s extraterritorial measures not only against Sudan, but a multiplicity of other countries at once. One example is when an unprecedented fine, totaling $11 billion was imposed against 38 international banks—key among them, the French Bank BNP Paribas—because of carrying out transactions with Sudan.

Thus since Washington has eventually succumbed to international pressure to officially lift its 50 years sanctions against Cuba, thanks to a UN resolution in 2014, it doesn’t require a similar reproach to save Africans in Sudan. Let it lift the sanctions in good standing.

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