Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy(*), wins his bet
GENEVA (24 October 2017) – The lifting of sanctions on Sudan by the United States on 12 October was a monumental event that recognized the importance of engaging in dialogue with States in order to improve the human rights conditions. During his visit to New York to present his report to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Mr. Idriss Jazairy, reflected on his contribution to this event, and suggested it might be an example of how other unilateral sanction regimes could be lifted.
“The Sudan has been undergoing stifling economic and financial US sanctions for the past 20 years which were introduced by the Clinton Administration. These sanctions whilst taken outside the framework of the UN Security Council in the context of a US domestic law – although taken unilaterally – were applied by all third countries in their relations with the Sudan. Failure to observe these sanctions exposed businesses, whatever their nationality, to stiff fines levied by the US Treasury.
This has led to a serious deterioration of infrastructure, means of transport, potable water distribution in Khartoum, and a decline in industrial and agricultural production. The health sector itself – despite humanitarian exceptions – has been paralyzed for lack of medicine and medical equipment. This is because the system of international interbank transfers – called SWIFT – was inaccessible to the Sudan by virtue of the US sanctions, thus making it impossible for Khartoum to pay for “authorized” life-saving medical imports.
The Sudan estimates the losses incurred from the sanctions to amount to over USD $500 billion.
The date of the 12 October 2017 – which was the day the sanctions were lifted – was therefore a day of celebration for 30 million Sudanese.
The Special Rapporteur reported to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly on 18 October 2017 on the factors which contributed to this happy outcome.
The Special Rapporteur – having noted with concern during an official visit to the Sudan in November 2015 the deteriorating effects on the right to life of Sudanese people in the context of the unavailability of essential medical supplies – recommended the creation in Khartoum of a medicine procurement agency managed by the local UN office and that would be authorized by the US to proceed to the
necessary international financial transfers to the pharmaceutical corporation providing medicines to the Ministry of Health of the Sudan. His recommendations were adopted and welcomed by all parties. They were successful confidence-building measures.
According to the Special Rapporteur, the rest of 2016 was devoted to “quiet diplomacy” to bring about conditions conducive to the lifting of the sanctions. Sustained efforts were pursued in this context by Mr. Idriss Jazairy with the valuable assistance of the UN Independent Expert on the Sudan Mr. Aristide Nononsi which led the Obama Administration to be ready to lift the sanctions by the beginning of 2017. It was nevertheless agreed during the transition that the Trump Administration would dispose of a six-months observation period before the final decision was taken. This period was extended by three further months on 12 July 2017. On 13 September 2017, the Special Rapporteur launched a solemn appeal at the Human Rights Council that the “11 October be the last day of the sanctions applied to the Sudan.” On 6 October 2017, the US State Department announced that these sanctions would indeed be lifted as from 12 October 2017.
In conclusion, the Special Rapporteur paid tribute to the principled position of the Trump Administration which has risen above partisan considerations in taking this welcome decision. He also expressed his appreciation to the Sudanese authorities for their confidence and flexibility. Mr. Jazairy held on this occasion a private meeting with the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. António Guterres. A luncheon was offered in his honour by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Sudan H. E. Hamid Mohamed Ahmed who reiterated to him the gratitude of the Sudan.” ENDS
*Mr. Idriss Jazairy was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the first Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. He took office in May 2015. Mr. Jazairy has extensive experience in the fields of international relations and human rights with the Algerian Foreign Ministry, the UN human rights system and international NGOs. He holds a M.A. (Oxford) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and an M.P.A. (Harvard). He also graduated from the École Nationale d’Administration (France). Mr. Jazairy is the author of books and of a large number of articles in the international press on development, human rights and current affairs.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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