SUDAN WITHIN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
It is clear that there has been a remarkable shift in attitude towards Sudan within the international community over the past two years. Sudan has moved from a position of relative isolation to a place at the centre of the family of nations. This new position is partly a response by the international community to positive changes within Sudan itself. It is also clearly a reaction by many countries within the Non-Aligned Movement to the aggressive stance taken towards Sudan by the United States. U.S. belligerence was highlighted, of course, by Washington's disastrous attack on the al-Shifa medicines factory in Khartoum - an attack which is widely accepted to have been a ignominious mistake on the part of American intelligence. In 1999, as part of this shift, the European Union stated that it had "noticed signs of improvement" in the Sudanese situation.. The EU then entered into a dialogue with Sudan conducted by European Union member states heads of mission in Khartoum. It was stated that through this dialogue the European Union would monitor how the Sudanese government were implementing measures it was taking to meet its declared objectives, "especially in the fields of peace, democratisation, human rights and relations with the neighbouring countries and the international community".
That there have been significant changes within Sudan, and with regard to Sudan's regional and international standing is undeniable. These changes have included a Constitution safeguarding civil liberties and human rights, legislation entrenching multi-party politics - and the return to Sudan of all major political opposition parties because of these changes - constructive developments in the Sudanese peace process, and the freeing of all political prisoners. Khartoum has also publicly announced the holding of multi-party parliamentary and presidential elections in Sudan in December 2000. Ongoing economic reforms and progress have also been enough for the IMF to restore Sudan's IMF voting rights. A further feature of the past two years has also been improved relations with neighbouring countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea and the international community.
THE LIFTING OF THE 1996 SANCTIONS
A clear reflection of Sudan's improved relations with its neighbours and the international community have been the moves to lift the limited diplomatic sanctions imposed on Sudan in 1996 in the wake of a 1995 attempt by Egyptian terrorists on the life of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak while he was attending a summit meeting in Addis Ababa. These sanctions called upon U.N. members to reduce Sudan's diplomatic presence in their countries and to restrict the movement of Sudanese officials. They also called upon international organisations to refrain from holding meetings or conferences in Sudan.
These sanctions were imposed as the result of Security Council Resolution 1044 (1996) and Resolutions 1054 (1996) and 1070 (1996). These resolutions called upon the Sudanese government to:
- Hand over to the Government of Ethiopia the three persons suspected of involvement in the attempt to assassinate the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, in Addis Ababa on 26 June 1995:
- Desist from engaging in any terrorist activities; and
- Improve its relations with its neighbours in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity.
It is clear that Sudan has taken the imposition of these sanctions very seriously, and has responded accordingly.
THE THREE SUSPECTS
Sudan conducted an exhaustive search within Sudan for the three suspects, including taking our prominent advertisements in the Sudanese media. Khartoum also invited Interpol to assist in the search. The Sudanese Government has stated that no trace has been found of these three men. Khartoum has consulted extensively with both the Ethiopian and Egyptian authorities on the issue, stating that there is "complete understanding with the two Governments on all security issues, including that of the three suspects".
In keeping with this understanding both Egypt and Ethiopia have supported the lifting of sanctions in question. The Egyptian government stated that having seen "a number of positive and encouraging indications from the part of the Sudanese government" aimed at improving Sudan's relations with Egypt, it supported the rescinding of the sanctions. The Ethiopian government said that "it is the conviction of the Ethiopian Government that the concerns that gave rise to the sanctions.no longer apply.Ethiopia is, therefore, of the view that it is now time for the lifting of the sanctions imposed on the Sudan".
SUDAN'S ACTIONS TO COUNTER TERRORISM
In May 2000, Sudan completed the process of acceding to all of the international instruments for the elimination of international terrorism. It has signed the following international agreements:
- The 1997 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings
- The 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
- The 1988 International Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation (Montreal 1988)
- The 1980 International Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (Vienna 1980)
- The 1992 International Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf.
- The 1963 International Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed on board Aircraft.
- The 1991 International Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection.
Sudan has also become a party to regional agreements and a participant in regional programmes for the suppression and elimination of terrorism on the African continent through the Organisation of African Unity. Sudan has also signed similar agreements within the framework of the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and in March 2000, Sudan also comprehensively updated its own legislation for the suppression of terrorism. The Sudanese Government has repeatedly invited the United States to send its own anti-terrorist teams to Sudan to investigate and follow-up any information they may have about Sudan's alleged involvement in terrorism. The Clinton Administration had either declined or ignored Sudanese invitations made in February and April 1997. Washington eventually accepted the offer and an American team comprising experts from the CIA, FBI and State Department spent several weeks in Sudan in 2000.
SUDAN'S RELATIONS WITH NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES
Sudanese relations with Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda have been normalised. This has been acknowledged and welcomed by the international community. In March, 2000 Sudan and Ethiopia announced that their countries' ties were "now much stronger" than they were in early 1990s. They declared that they had signed agreements on cooperation in political, security, trade, roads, communications, agriculture and other spheres. In January 2000, Eritrea and Sudan resumed diplomatic relations with each other. Eritrea handed back the Sudanese embassy to the Sudanese government which it had previously given to Sudanese rebels. In December, 1999, Sudan and Uganda also normalised relations, signing a peace agreement brokered by Jimmy Carter. Continuing Ugandan-Sudanese talks have also seen progress.
SUPPORT FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
Sudan has had unprecedented support from the international community over the sanctions issue. South Africa and Algeria, in the capacities as chairmen of the 114-member Non-Aligned Movement and the 22-member Arab Group of states respectively called on the Security Council to withdraw the sanctions. The Organisation of African Unity, representing 53 countries, as well as the Arab League, have also urged the Security Council to rescind the sanctions in question. In a letter to the President of the Security Council, OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim stated that the lifting of the sanctions was an urgent matter:
The lifting of sanctions imposed on Sudan is not only urgently called for, but would also positively contribute to efforts aimed at promoting peace, security and stability in the region.
It is not just from within the ranks of the developing world or Non-Aligned Movement that support for Sudan has emerged. The French Ambassador to the United Nations, Jean-David Levitte, President of the United Nations Security Council, also recognised positive developments regarding Sudan:
There are evolutions for the better in Khartoum, and France is not the only member of the Council to consider that these positive evolutions should be registered.
In an additional indication of the shift within the international community regarding Sudan, in July 2000 the African countries selected Sudan to represent the African continent as a non-permanent member on the United Nations Security Council. The Organisation of African Unity, representing 53 nations, chose Sudan over Uganda and Mauritius to succeed Namibia for two years beginning January 2001.
CONCLUSIONIt is clear that there is a consensus that the 1996 sanctions should be lifted. These sanctions themselves have in any case never really been very actively enforced. Sudanese ministers, including the foreign minister, had been able to pay official visits to most European Union countries, including the United Kingdom, and Canada. Both Egypt and Ethiopia, the countries central to the issue, have urged that these sanctions are withdrawn. There is overwhelming international support for such a move from organisations such as the Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab League and the Organisation of African Unity as well as several prominent European Union countries. This support, together with demonstrable political progress and reform in Sudan, makes a very clear case for an end to these sanctions and for the regularisation of Sudan's position within the community of nations.