On Tuesday, the Obama Administration announced the continuation of the national emergency with respect to Sudan which maintains sanctions on the country for another year. The sanctions, which are renewed on an annual basis, were initially placed on Sudan by Presidents Clinton and Bush because of Sudan’s past support for international terrorism and widespread atrocities in Darfur.
While it is positive that President Obama extended these sanctions, it is also discouraging that he has taken few additional steps to stop Bashir’s most recent atrocities, especially the Sudanese government’s greatly intensified and expanded attacks against civilians, which have displaced over 500,000 civilians this year alone.
U.S. sanctions primarily targeted Sudanese officials who have committed atrocities in Darfur and those with ties to international terrorist organizations. The Obama administration has yet to impose measures on specific perpetrators of violence against civilians in Abyei, South Kordofan, or Blue Nile. United Nations sanctions on Sudan are similarly lacking, only applying to four individuals and omitting individuals wanted by the International Criminal Court.
In order to prevent further escalation of violence in Sudan, the U.S. should lead a push at the United Nations Security Council to expand sanctions to include individuals responsible for attacks against civilians in Sudan. Any international push by the United States would likely prompt the European Union to follow suit, increasing the effectiveness of international asset freezes and travel bans.
The Obama Administration has a strong track record of implementing targeted sanctions on perpetrators of severe human rights violations, but has not yet imposed consequences on Sudanese officials who commit violent crimes against their own people. The United States must not ignore the brutal attacks on civilians in Sudan and should lead the international community in enacting targeted asset freezes and travels bans on those responsible.