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European Union External Action

Sudan and the EU

Sudan is the country with the third largest territory and the ninth largest population in Africa. Just like Europe, Sudan is united in diversity of languages, religions, cultures and ethnic groups.  

After Sudan's independence on January 1st 1956, the country underwent a long wave of political and security instability.  This led to three democratic regimes, three military coups and two popular uprisings.   Protracted conflicts and peace, dictatorship and democracy, insecurity and stability have fluctuated throughout modern Sudanese history and have marked the nature of EU-Sudan engagement since 1977.

A New Page in Relations

By the beginning of 1999, EU-Sudanese relations had transformed into a new stage of engagement and gradual normalization of relations began due to three main reasons.

Firstly, the Sudan experienced a period of political change in the 1990s. The Government of Sudan realized that the civil war had exhausted the country and began peace talks with Sudan's People Liberation Movement (SPLM). Secondly, the Sudanese government had undergone political and constitutional developments which led to the holding of elections, the adoption of a multiparty democracy.  All these factors led Sudan to review its foreign policy with the aim of striking a balance between continuity on the one hand and adapting to volatile international circumstances on the other, which was spelled out in the first Interim Constitution of 1998.

Most importantly, Sudan reviewed and improved its regional stands by normalizing its relations with Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, Chad and Eritrea, thereby enhancing the prospect of stability and cooperation in the region of North and the Horn of Africa.  In parallel, Sudan has shown considerable will to cooperate with the international community in global concerns like international crime, terrorism and illegal trafficking. This new shift in the foreign relations of the Sudan particularly with neighboring countries and a number of European and Asian countries has led to renewed contacts with the EU.

In parallel, the exploration of oil and economic prospects in agriculture and mining caused Sudan to move away from isolation.  Sudan is now seen as a troubled nation that requires a new approach and cooperation rather than isolation.

As a result, the EU began in 1999 to take a more pro-active, integrated approach, combining dialogue and leverage, in order to create conditions for improved stability and peace.

As of November 1999, the EU and the Sudan have been engaged in formal political dialogue aimed at addressing concerns about human rights, the peace process with the South, rule of law, and democratisation. Moreover, the dialogue was followed by parallel discussions in March 2002 and 2003 with the South Sudanese 'SPLM as a means for the EU to address concerns of the civil war, human rights and humanitarian relief with the SPLM also present.

The key aim of the Sudanese-EU dialogue is to take advantage of mutual understanding in order to positively contribute to positive relations and development of Sudan. Such efforts are based on understanding the needs of the Sudanese government to assist the people of Sudan in achieving these aspirations. This makes trust building a key rationale of EU-Sudan engagement.

The European Union support to Peace in Sudan

The European Union sent a sizeable observation mission to monitor the general elections in 2010 and the South Sudan referendum in 2011. The two democratic processes were a major pillar of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

The European Union was a witness to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM). In 2005, the agreement brought an end to the long civil war between North and South Sudan. Since then the EU objective has been to assist both parties to achieve and maintain peace dividends by fully applying the CPA. The implementation of the CPA has become the main political objective dominating EU-Sudanese relations after 2005.

Today, the European Union encourages both Sudan and South Sudan to maintain good neigbourly relations and enhance regional cooperation.

The European Union support to Darfur

The United Nations have described Sudan's western region of Darfur as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.  The crisis was the result of a conflict that broke out in 2003 when rebels in Darfur took up arms, accusing the government of neglecting the region. The Government responded with a counter-insurgency campaign which prolonged the conflict.  The violence in the region resulted in thousands of casualties, forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes, and negatively affected the neighbors of Sudan.

A combined United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force (UNAMID) was deployed in 2008 to help restoring peace and stability to the troubled region, which is the size of France.  Since the conflict started in Darfur, the EU has played an important role in supporting the peace and stability in Darfur.  The European Union:

  1. Issued a number of statements and resolutions calling for the restoration of peace, justice, reconciliation and stability in the region.
  2. Supplied the biggest humanitarian operation to Darfur and Chad to support internally displaced people (IDPs), refugees and people affected by the war.  The projects are implemented by the United Nations agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other international organisations.
  3. Provided financial, personnel, logistical and technical support to the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to help stabilizing the situation in Darfur since December 2007.
  4. Provided political and technical support to the Abuja and Doha talks' peace process as well as the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP).
  5. Provided development aid to safe and secure areas in Darfur to ensure long term assistance and strengthen the dividends for peace.
  6. Continued to coordinate with local, regional and international partners and forums the implementation of peace, justice and human rights in Darfur.

The European Union support to National Dialogue and Reconciliation in Sudan

The Presidency of Sudan initiated a National Dialogue process on 27 January 2014.  The European Union sees the process as the best opportunity to make progress towards internal peace, reconciliation and democratic governance.

The Ambassadors of the European Union met with all the political actors inside Sudan to understand their position on the national dialogue.  On 20 October 2014, the European Council of Foreign Affairs issued conclusions on the process. 

The EU considered that for the Sudanese National Dialogue to succeed and to achieve legitimate results, it should be:

  • inclusive: Space should be given for a meaningful participation of the opposition parties and armed movements as well as civil society, including women's, groups. The dialogue should include stakeholders from all of Sudan's regions and reflect the full ethnic, religious and cultural diversity of Sudan;
  • comprehensive: To address Sudan’s internal conflicts, issues such as socio-economic marginalization, unequal distribution of resources, political exclusion and lack of access to public services need to be tackled. The dialogue should provide mechanisms for the way forward for peace and development in all regions in conflict. It should provide for a platform on which to discuss issues of national importance, including identity and social equality, agree new and inclusive governance arrangements, a definitive constitution and a roadmap for the holding of national elections;
  • held in a conducive environment: The freedoms of expression, of media, of association and assembly must be guaranteed. Political prisoners must be released, and practices of arbitrary detention - like those across the anniversary of the September 2013 protests - stopped;
  • accompanied by confidence-building measures: These should include, first and foremost an immediate, sustained and verifiable cessation of hostilities and free and unhindered humanitarian access to all civilians in the conflict areas. This is of relevance both to the Government of Sudan and to the armed movements;
  • transparent about the process, the objectives, the timeframe and the way forward, so that the Sudanese people at large can own the process and accept its outcomes.

The EU confirmed its support the National Dialogue process as set out above and encouraged all stakeholders inside and outside Sudan to join efforts towards such a process. 

The EU made it clear that Sudan stands at an important crossroad. A genuine National Dialogue would help enhance confidence between Sudan and international partners such as the EU. It would also create a peaceful environment in which tangible and sustained progress in addressing Sudan's main political and economic challenges, needed to secure debt relief under the HIPC process, could be achieved.

The EU continues to call on the Government of Sudan, the opposition and the armed movements to rise to the occasion and demonstrate the leadership necessary to put Sudan on a path to peace, prosperity and justice.

The Relations Today

Today, supporting the fragile political scene in the Sudan is critical. The referendum conducted in 2011 to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement resulted in Southern Sudan choosing independence from the North. On July 9th, 2011 South Sudan became an independent country.  Consequently a new political map was created.

The EU supports a holistic approach to Sudan's multiple challenges and the need to tackle comprehensively the political, economic and social causes of persisting conflict. This is why, the EU – Sudanese relations in the coming phase will include:

  1. Continued support for comprehensive, inclusive and transparent forums to achieve peace in all regions of Sudan. The National Dialogue is a desirable format of such a forum, if accompanied by confidence building measures and an environment that is conducive to dialogue. This includes the release of political prisoners, guarantee of human rights, an end to conflicts and humanitarian access to crisis regions.
  2. Continued provision of technical and development cooperation and support in the areas of human rights, civil society, good governance, rule of law, conflict resolution, health, education, environment, rural development, infrastructure, and food security.
  3. Continue to identify new areas of cooperation between Sudan and the European Union like irregular migration and climate change.  The opening of new windows for cooperation will open way to building trust and interests which will reflect positively on other areas of cooperation like peace, human rights and democracy.
  4. Continued provision of humanitarian assistance to the conflict zones in Sudan while changing the focus from humanitarian aid to sustainable development when the security situation allows and travel access is granted.
  5. Uninterrupted support for regional initiatives by Sudan’s neighboring countries to prevent conflict, fight human trafficking and other trans-regional crimes.

 

The European Commission’s humanitarian aid department, is responsible for managing and monitoring EU-funded humanitarian projects in Sudan.  Since 2011, the EU has allocated over €288 million for humanitarian assistance in Sudan. The total amount of EU funded humanitarian projects in 2016 is €56 million. 

EU-funded humanitarian aid projects are implemented by INGOs, UN agencies and the international movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. The humanitarian support to partners is provided under the Humanitarian Implementation Plan (HIP) for Sudan.  It includes food assistance, nutrition and health care, water and sanitation, protection, shelter, education in emergencies and a multi-sectoral response to various refugee and displacement crises in Sudan.  Projects are implemented based on regularly updated needs assessments, sustained and principled access to the affected populations, funding availability and coordination. Currently, EU humanitarian projects are implemented in Darfur, White Nile, South, North and West Kordofan and Eastern States. 

Due to the particularly harsh impact of the El Niño weather phenomenon on crops and food security in 2015-16, a considerable effort has been made to provide affected populations with emergency assistance.  Out of the total EU humanitarian aid (€56 million), €30 million have  been allocated to food assistance and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene interventions, and strengthening livelihoods of those most affected by El Niño. The response is mainly implemented in Darfur, North Kordofan and in the East.

The European Commission has been providing humanitarian assistance in Sudan since 1994, addressing life-threatening needs of vulnerable people with more than €1 269 901 321 in humanitarian assistance to date.

In close collaboration with its implementing partners, the EU humanitarian office in Sudan has adopted a flexible, principled and needs-based programming approach. This allows for a timely and effective response to changing humanitarian circumstances resulting from conflict or disasters and despite a volatile and increasingly restrictive environment for humanitarian aid agencies.

EU humanitarian partners provide life-saving assistance to communities affected by conflict, including internally displaced people, refugees, host communities and voluntary returnees. This includes a strong focus on civilian protection and the provision of basic services to the most affected households.

The EU also supports critical care for vulnerable people affected by levels of malnutrition that are above international emergency thresholds, especially populations most at risk such as children under the age of 5 and pregnant and lactating women.

Emergency aid is also provided following disease outbreaks or natural disasters.

The European Commission’s humanitarian aid department has offices in Khartoum and Nyala in South Darfur.

An overview of EU humanitarian aid

Humanitarian assistance remains a priority for the EU and the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department is one of the world’s largest humanitarian donors.

The Commission's humanitarian department was established in 1992. Its mandate is to provide emergency assistance and relief to the victims of natural disasters and armed conflicts, irrespective of their race, religion or political convictions. The Commission's role is to ensure the quick delivery of essential goods and services to crisis zones through partners such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations (UN) agencies and the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. The Commission relies on a network of 150 field experts who assess the needs of populations and monitor ongoing projects.

Since 1992, the EU has funded humanitarian action in more than 140 countries. Its grants amount to approximately €1 billion per year. Through EU funding to over 200 humanitarian partners in the field an estimated 120 million people worldwide are helped each year.

Apart from the funding and monitoring of projects, The EU also engages in a wide range of other activities, such as

  1. feasibility studies;
  2. setting-up of coordination arrangements;
  3. supporting disaster preparedness and response;
  4. strengthening institutions;
  5. giving technical assistance to partners;
  6. raising public awareness on humanitarian issues;
  7. financing networks and training;
  8. supporting study initiatives in the humanitarian field.
For more information on the European Commission's humanitarian projects, please contact:
European Commission Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection Office (ECHO)
Address: Street 33, Plot 58, Khartoum 2
Tel: +249 183 59 19 62 / + 249 183 596596
Fax: +249 183 58 12 52

Development cooperation between the Sudan and the EU dates back to 1975 (check), when the Sudan joined other ACP states in the xth Lomé Convention, and subsequently the EU funded a number of projects in the country from the European Development Fund (EDF). Sudan was also a signatory to the 2000 Cotonou Agreement, but it has not ratified the 2005 and 2010 revisions thereof. As a result, and until the Government of Sudan ratifies the revised Cotonou Agreement, Sudan does not have access to programmable resources under the European Development Fund.

Nonetheless, the EU, in close consultation with its EU Member States, has developed a Special Measures intervention for the people of Sudan since 2011. For the period 2016-2017, a total amount of EUR 100 million was approved by the EDF Committee in March 2016.  In 2015 the EU Emergency trust Fund for Stability and Addressing Root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa (EUTF) was created. The EUTF will provide financial support for the action plan adopted by the 2015 Valetta Summit on Migration.  The Special Measures for Sudan are implemented through the EUTF.

Sudan is also a beneficiary of funding from the EU’s Food Security and Non-State Actors Programmes, the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.

EU development policy seeks to eradicate poverty in a context of sustainable development. It is a cornerstone of EU relations with the outside world – alongside foreign, security and trade policy (and international aspects of other policies like environment, agriculture and fisheries). Providing over 50% of all global development aid, the EU is the world's leading donor. EU action on development is based on the Lisbon Treaty and on the 2005 European Consensus on Development, which commits the EU Council, European Parliament and Commission to a common vision.

The Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs) expired at the end of 2015. Although they contributed to raising public awareness, and increasing political will mobilising resources to end poverty, the MDG agenda remains unfinished. In 2015, the international community agreed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development defining 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Agenda 2030 is global and universal, addressing the three dimensions of sustainable development, recognising the need to address poverty, social issues and environmental degradation together. In particular, the Agenda 2030 puts a new focus on inequality within and among countries, renews the impetus to ensuring gender equality, including the gender dimension in conflicts addresses  he challenges to preserve and promote global public goods, including a stable climate. The EU is currently revisiting its internal, foreign and development policies in the light of its commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

The EU also is committed to Policy Coherence for Development and Aid Effectiveness, to maximise the development impact of other EU policies. Based on European values, the EU promotes, in its relations with partners countries, democratic values and practices such as human rights, fundamental freedoms, good governance and the rule of law. Gender equality is an important element of the EU approach.

In 2011 the Commission set out a more strategic EU approach to reducing poverty, including a more targeted and concentrated allocation of funding: the Agenda for Change.

EU development cooperation with Sudan is implemented by the Operations Section of the Delegation. The section is currently managing app. 150 contracts in various stages of implementation financed from about 20 financing decisions. The total value of cooperation is currently app. EUR 235 million.

The EU is currently working in a wide area of sectors in the country and these are presented below.

Human Rights

The promotion and protection of human rights is at the core of all the EU's development cooperation. However, the EU also has targeted programmes to advance respect for human rights in its partner countries. The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights with its Country Based Support Scheme (EIDHR-CBSS) for Sudan – is the only instrument entirely devoted to the support of civil society initiatives aimed at promoting human rights and democracy in Sudan. The programme was launched by the EU Delegation in Sudan in 2005. Approximately EUR 9 million have been committed to Sudan since.

The budget line primarily supports initiatives by national civil society organisations in the promotion of democratic principles and human rights, but has also funded projects with universities and third level educational institutions. Overall, a total of 105 projects with international and Sudanese human rights organisations have been co-financed under the Programme with the following achievements:

  • Extensive awareness raising of local communities on human rights principles and human rights education;
  • Promotion democratic processes and participation of different groups in public life;
  • Promoting the human rights of specific target groups such as women, children, youth, IDPs, marginalized communities and minorities;
  • Enhancing the culture of equality, tolerance and peace post-CPA through projects targeting issues of peace, stability, conflict resolution, coexistence and transitional justice.

In terms of implementing partners, it has to be noted that the EIDHR in Sudan is open to civil society organisations, including non-governmental non-profit organisations and independent political foundations, community based organisations, and private sector non-profit agencies, institutions and organisations, and networks thereof at local, national, regional and international level; In addition to the above-mentioned categories, non-profit making universities and National Human Rights are also eligible under the programme.

In the 11 years of its existence, the Programme has always been trying to ensure it responds to the human rights needs and constrains of the country as well as wide geographical coverage throughout all years and thereby reaching a large target population.

To promote human rights in Sudan, the Delegation of the European Union celebrates the International Day for Human Rights with an event held at the Delegation. At the event a "Champion of Human Rights" is awarded a silver medal for his/herachievements and to encourage others to continue the path of spreading and defending universal human rights.

Food Security

Sudan is a structurally food insecure country. Average rural poverty rates are estimated at 58%, and per capita average expenditure for the rural poor is less than $1 per day. The most food insecure areas are concentrated in Darfur, East Sudan and the Transitional Areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Although agriculture represents 30% of the GDP, the sector is significantly underfunded. In Darfur, particularly East Darfur, and in the Eastern States of Gedarif and parts of Kassala traditional rain-fed farming is the main method of cultivation practiced by poor households with little capital to invest. Production and productivity are low due to a number of constraints related to: insecurity; the impact and legacy of conflict and displacement, climate change and mismanagement of natural resources,; lack of access to suppliers of agriculture inputs and financial services,; poor market and value chain development,; lack of crop diversification, irregular water supply and lack of water strategies to reduce the risk of crop failure.

Since the year 2000, the EU has committed over EUR 55 million thematic budget line through NGOs to support the food security and livelihoods of vulnerable population in the affected areas of Sudan; over EUR 18 million via UN organisations to strengthen food security information gathering and analysing. In support of the smallholders, the EU is implementing an EUR 25 million programme (Sudan Food Security Programme) for improving sorghum productivity in Kassala, Gedaref and Blue Nile states, and horticultural and fisheries production in Red Sea.

Support to Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities

Civil society organisations and local and decentralised authorities are key partners of the European Union's political engagement and development cooperation with third countries. Through its targeted programmes bringing together civil society organisations and local authorities, the EU Delegation to Sudan provides substantive financial assistance to community-based development initiatives that benefit the poorest sections of the population.

From 2007 to 2013, the EU Delegation to Sudan supported civil society organisations and local authorities through the 'Non-State Actors and Local Authorities in Development' (NSA-LA) thematic programme. In six NSA-LA calls for proposals, more than 40 projects worth EUR 24 million have been implemented successfully by international and Sudanese civil society organisations in all states of the Sudan.

One such example is the two-year project "Enhancing the capacities of local development organisations in Red Sea State" carried out jointly by the Dutch non-governmental organisation Oxfam Novib and its Sudanese partner, the Port Sudan Association for Small Enterprise Development (PASED) in Red Sea State from 2014-2015. By building the capacities of women, youth and fishermen groups and creating collaboration mechanisms with the local authorities, the project empowered the local community members to take part in development planning for their areas and ensure it meets their needs.

In 2014, the EU introduced a new funding instrument to further strengthen its engagement with civil society organisations and local authorities in partner countries: the 'Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities' (CSO-LA) thematic programme. The main objective of the CSO-LA programme is to enhance contributions of civil society organisations and local authorities to inclusive democratic governance and sustainable development processes. Currently, the EU is funding 11 projects with civil society organisation and local authorities worth 5 million EUR under this programme.

The ongoing projects cover issues such as poverty reduction and provision of basic services, such as health and education, in rural and remote areas, community mobilisation, awareness raising and capacity building, and the promotion of participatory, inclusive governance and peace building.

Climate Change

As stated in the Sudan INDC Submitted to the UNFCCC "Sudan is highly vulnerable to climate change and climate variability, predominantly a result of climatic and non-climatic factors. These factors in addition to the interaction of other multiple stresses such as ecosystem degradation, complex disasters and conflicts, and limited access to capital, markets, infrastructure and technology have all weakened people’s ability to adapt to changes in climate. Climatic factors constitute, above all, temperature increases and infrequent precipitation. Sudan’s Second National Communication (SNC, 2013) illustrated that air temperatures have been steadily increasing over the period 1960 – 2009. When averaged across all seasons, temperatures in the 2000-2009 periods are roughly between 0.8°C and 1.6°C warmer than they were in the 1960 – 1969 period. Rainfall is also very variable, and is becoming increasingly unpredictable. During the period 1981 – 2012 the rainfall in the whole country was significantly decreased compared to 1971 – 2000. Both the SNC (2013) and the National Adaptation Plan (NAP, 2014) illustrated that the frequency of extreme climatic shocks is increasing, particularly drought and floods. Frequent drought threatens about 19 million hectares of rain-fed mechanized and traditional farms, as well as the livelihoods of many pastoral and nomadic groups; more than 70% of Sudan’s population’s livelihood depends on this sectors. Floods in Sudan can either be localized caused by exceptionally heavy rainfall or more widespread, caused by the overflow of the River Nile and its tributaries (NAPA, 2007). Non-climatic factors that contribute to the vulnerability of communities in different parts of Sudan include unsustainable management of natural resources, and socio-economic factors such as poverty, lack of income diversity, unequal distribution of income, urbanization, population growth, and lack of adequate infrastructure, and lack of international support and investments."

Preventing dangerous climate change is a key priority for the European Union. Europe is working hard to cut its greenhouse gas emissions substantially while encouraging other nations and regions to do likewise. in order to tackle climate change issues in Sudan,  the EU has allocated EUR 8.5 million for financing initiatives that strengthen the local communities' resilience to climate change shocks as well as improving the capacity of local authorities and other relevant stakeholders to prevent and address climate change in a sustainable way. The project focuses on rural communities and remote areas characterised by high rate of environmental degradation (including desertification, land degradation and drought) coupled with low human development, economic and social indicators. In particular, the intervention area will include North Darfur, Kassala, River Nile and Northern States where rising temperatures, decreasing rainfall, fluctuations in the River Nile, and increased wind speeds have resulted in lower crop yields, reduced livestock production, increased river bank erosion and land degradation.

Education

The mean amount of years of schooling in Sudan is 3.1 according to the Human Development Index. The government has a policy of free basic education. However, schools are not provided with funds to cover day to day costs such as maintenance. Other costs, such as uniforms, textbooks and meals; as well as payment for teachers etc. have to be covered by parents, creating an extra financial burden. Access to education is somewhat better for boys than for girls. This is closely connected to the prevalence of cultural factors and certain harmful practices (FGM/C and early marriage) that affect girls and therefore also their opportunities to attend school. Many children living in conflict areas have has their schooling disrupted as a result of the conflict.

Water and Sanitation

Human development indicators remain low for Sudan; it is ranked 167 out of 187 countries. Regional disparities can be seen in many different areas, including health, water, sanitation and hygiene; it is therefore important to take the regional context into consideration. For example, child mortality is at 170/1000 in Darfur and at 63/1000 in Gezira State (2014 statistics). Access to basic health services is low and there is great regional disparity when it comes to access to health facilities. Access to safe drinking water remains low (44% in urban areas, 41% in rural areas) – a large part of the population relies on rivers, lakes and wells due to the absence of piped drinking water.

The lack of access to facilities that enable the right to an adequate standard of living is more severe for vulnerable groups, such as women and children. Geographical location is also a factor that affects the equal access to basic services. The EU already works in the development sector and therefore already has a platform to work with ensuring access for all groups through a human rights based approach to development.

Women’s rights and equality between women and men

Women’s rights in Sudan are affected by a combination of factors including the current existing legal and policy frameworks, social norms and practices, as well as the overall economic and political situation in Sudan, in particular in conflict areas. There is a serious need for legal reform and addressing the lack or poor implementation of national policies aimed at promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Non-discrimination on the basis of gender is recognised in the Constitution (Article 32). The current legal framework nevertheless still contains discriminatory provisions affecting women’s rights . For instance, the Muslim Family Law (1991) and the Public Order Law (POL) curtail the rights of women when it comes to divorce, inheritance or freedom in public places. The introduction of the crime of rape and its dissociation from adultery, as well as the introduction of the crime of sexual harassment were a step in the right direction, as was the loosening of the public order law, but several of the provisions remain problematic. Sudan has not ratified CEDAW, nor the Maputo Protocol.

The quota for women in Parliament and public institutions was raised , but this does not always translate into more active involvement or influence over decision-making.

Violence against women remains an issue of concern, with domestic violence being largely underreported according to civil society reports. Sexual violence is prevalent in conflict areas or in custodial settings , but rarely prosecuted. Human trafficking especially affects women and girls, mainly in Eastern Sudan and in Khartoum. Inaccessibility or inefficiency of the justice system, little responsiveness from the police and lack of access to integrated services for victims remain a critical obstacle to the enjoyment of women’s rights in Sudan.

Children

Sudan has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Transposition into domestic law allowed for the prohibition of FGM, but not for its criminalisation, due to pressure from religious groups. The practice remains profuse in many regions of Sudan, albeit declining in the long run. The Sudanese administration and local civil society organisations were responsive to the UN-led Saleema campaign to curb the phenomenon. The involvement of public figures (spouse of the Head of State) on this issue is to be noticed.

The grossest discriminations and abuses aimed at children are contextualised. The full enjoyment of their rights is indeed not guaranteed for those children belonging to certain ethnic or religious group or living in rural areas, despite commendable efforts (access to education, child protection units). Recruitment of child soldiers (by both proxies of the Army and armed opposition movements) and subjection to gender-based violence remains a matter of serious concern in conflict areas. The government of Sudan has nevertheless signed a Plan of Action to protect children from violations in armed conflict (2016).

Early marriage remains a critical issue for human rights defender. The extent to which certain provisions of the family status law (adoption, birth registration) may not meet the best interest of the child is also an issue for discussion. There are margins of progression in terms of juvenile justice or effective eradication of child work.

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