Human Rights WatchWorld Report ContentsDownloadPrintOrderHRW Homepage

World map Sudan



Europe and Central Asia

Middle East and North Africa

Special Issues and Campaigns

United States


Children’s Rights

Women’s Human Rights


United States
The U.S. pursued its policy of isolating the Sudan government, punctuated by the bombing of a Khartoum factory after two U.S. embassies were bombed. The U.S. seemed unprepared for the storm of international criticism generated by the bombing and the U.S.’s refusal to divulge fully the reasons for targeting the factory; it prevented the Security Council from authorizing a U.N. inspection of the bombing site, but even the Organization of African Unity supported such an inspection.

U.S. embassy personnel, withdrawn from Khartoum in 1996, continued to make periodic short visits from Nairobi. A 1997 executive order banning U.S. imports and exports, financial transactions, and investments in Sudan continued.

The State Department noted that both government and opposition forces were guilty of human rights abuses, but U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright took the significant step of meeting with the rebel coalition in December 1997 in Kampala, and did not publicly raise human rights with them. While denying it provided any military aid to the Sudanese rebels, the U.S. allocated U.S. $20 million in “nonlethal” military assistance to SPLA supporters Uganda, Eritrea, and Ethiopia in FY1998 for defense against opposition groups in their countries which were backed by Sudan. When these three “frontline” states became involved in other wars, and the pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum was bombed, U.S. policy for Sudan suddenly appeared adrift.

The U.S. also allocated $7 million to support“democracy and civil society” in rebel areas, and $110 million for relief. It appointed a special envoy to address the complex problems of humanitarian assistance.

United Nations
The U.N. General Assembly again, as it has yearly since 1993, in November 1997 expressed its condemnation of human rights violations by all sides in the Sudan war. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights’ special rapporteur on Sudan issued a press statement on December 8, 1997, condemning the arrest and flogging of a group of women demonstrating in Khartoum against conscription. He issued a January 1998 report condemning the state of human rights in Sudan, and resigned in April 1998. Although the mandate was renewed, his replacement was not selected until August and the staff position to back up this rapporteur at the U.N. Centre for Human Rights was left vacant. Implementation of a commission resolution to investigate placing U.N. human rights monitors in or around Sudan, first directed by the commission in 1994, continued to founder.

The U.N. secretary-general’s special envoy for humanitarian affairs for Sudan left his position and a new envoy was promptly appointed. The government of Sudan sought a Security Council resolution authorizing an inspection of the pharmaceutical plant bombed by the U.S., but the Security Council did not take up the matter and later Khartoum appeared to have dropped the issue, in pursuit of better relations with the U.S. Minor Security Council sanctions on Sudan, imposed on account of Sudan’s refusal to extradite three men sought in the assassination attempt on Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in 1995, remained in place.

The U.N. continued to deploy enormous resources through various agencies, chief among them UNICEF and the WFP, to ameliorate the famine conditions in southern Sudan.

European Union
The European Union (E.U.) endorsed an arms embargo on the Sudan government in 1994, but lacked enforcement mechanisms. In an April resolution, the ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly called on the E.U. to maintain sanctions and not to resume development cooperation as long as the government of Sudan is in gross violation of human rights. It continued high levels of support for the relief effort.

Revelant Human Rights Watch reports:
Sudan: Global Trade, Local Impact: Arms Transfers to all Sides in the Civil War in Sudan , 8/98




The Democratic Republic of Congo







Sierra Leone

South Africa





Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

Abduction and Enslavement of Ugandan Children

Human Rights Causes of the Famine in Sudan


Copyright © 1999
Human RIghts Watch