Note: This blog contains excerpts from the policy brief.
In early July, the Trump administration must make a decision: follow through on an Obama-era plan to terminate sanctions on Sudan, or put the old sanctions regime back in place. But the Enough Project encourages a third option, as detailed in our new report: The July Deadline Won’t Work: Why the U.S. needs to delay the decision on Sudan sanctions.
This past January, the outgoing Obama administration conditionally eased almost all U.S. sanctions on Sudan. Known as the “five track plan,” this ongoing diplomatic initiative requires Sudan to make tangible progress on five tracks of bilateral engagement if sanctions are to be permanently removed. (1) cooperation on counterterrorism; (2) cooperation in countering the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA); (3) commitment to a cessation of hostilities in Sudan’s conflict areas; (4) ending support to South Sudanese armed opposition actors; and (5) providing humanitarian access to populations in need. The executive order initially easing U.S. sanctions in January provided that the sanctions would be lifted altogether in mid-July 2017 if the Sudanese government verifiably “sustained the positive actions that gave rise to this order.”
However, as the brief describes, the evidence available concerning multiple tracks is inconclusive, and thus the need for a delay. There are serious questions about progress, or lack thereof, on two of the tracks, focused on humanitarian access and a cessation of hostilities. Furthermore, key senior Trump administration officials focused on Africa, who would normally be part of such an important decision, are not yet in place and thus unable to weigh in on the decision.
“Given inconclusive evidence concerning multiple tracks and the fact that senior Africa policy posts have not yet been filled, the Trump administration should defer for at least six months the mid-July decision on what to do about the sanctions. This five-track policy initiative is deeply flawed and incomplete, undermines U.S. foreign policy objectives, and gives away a major point of U.S. leverage for little beyond potential short-term counter-terrorism gains while doing nothing to address the structural issues in Sudan that have led to increased refugee flows to Europe, further repression of Sudanese Christians and other minority groups, and continued war and authoritarian leadership. A six month delay in the decision would give the Trump administration time to pursue a separate, new and independent track for peace and human rights in Sudan. Incorporating modernized and focused financial pressures tools, as well as new incentives, this new track could seek to advance human rights, religious freedom, essential democratic reforms, anti-corruption efforts, good governance, and a comprehensive peace in Sudan.” – John Prendergast, Enough Project Founding Director
The brief describes four major problems with the executive order and the way it was implemented by the Obama administration, demonstrating that it is deeply flawed and incomplete, undermines U.S. foreign policy objectives, and gives away a major point of U.S. leverage for little beyond potential short-term counterterrorism gains while doing nothing to address the structural issues in Sudan that have led to increased refugee flows to Europe, further repression of Sudanese Christians and other minority groups, and continued war and authoritarian leadership.
The Enough Project is recommending a six-month delay on the decision, during which time the Trump administration should assign the additional staff needed to gather credible information and assess progress on each of the five tracks. While properly assessing progress on the five tracks, the Trump administration should also pivot to pursue a separate new track of engagement focused on advancing peace and human rights in Sudan.