On Jun. 1, 2023, the United States (U.S.) Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued four general licenses (GLs) authorizing certain activities and transactions in Sudan, including General License 2, which authorizes non-governmental organization (NGO)-related activities, such as providing humanitarian aid and peacebuilding programs. 

GLs are issued by OFAC to provide the legal authority to engage in otherwise prohibited activities in sanctioned areas. These GLs are “self-executing,” meaning that individuals and organizations that determine their activities fall within the scope of the list of authorized activities included in GLs may proceed with those activities in sanctioned areas without further permission or additional licensing from OFAC. 

Sudan was not included in OFAC’s December 2022 new and amended baseline general licenses, which implemented United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2664 and expanded protections for life-saving aid in sanctioned areas. As a result, new GLs were required to protect life-saving work in Sudan from being impeded by U.S. sanctions regimes – which is particularly important given the conflict is centered in densely populated civilian areas. 

On May 4, 2023, in response to the conflict in Sudan, President Biden issued Executive Order 14098 (EO 14098), Executive Order on Imposing Sanctions on Certain Persons Destabilizing Sudan and Undermining the Goal of a Democratic Transition, to authorize the U.S. Government (USG) to impose sanctions on persons or entities connected to “the military’s seizure of power in October 2021 and the outbreak of inter-service fighting in April 2023.” The EO highlights that these connections and the current situation in the country pose an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

Specifically, EO 14098 authorizes the USG to issue sanctions against foreign persons or entities who engage in: 

  • actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of Sudan;
  • actions or policies that obstruct, undermine, delay, or impede, or pose a significant risk of obstructing, undermining, delaying, or impeding, the formation or operation of a civilian transitional government, Sudan’s transition to democracy, or a future democratically elected government;
  • actions or policies that have the purpose or effect of undermining democratic processes or institutions in Sudan;
  • censorship or other actions or policies that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedoms of expression, association, or peaceful assembly by individuals in Sudan, or that limit access to free and independent news or information in or with respect to Sudan;
  • corruption, including bribery, misappropriation of state assets, and interference with public processes such as government oversight of parastatal budgets and revenues for personal benefit;
  • serious human rights abuse, including serious human rights abuse related to political repression, in or with respect to Sudan;
  • the targeting of women, children, or any other civilians through the commission of acts of violence (including killing, maiming, torture, or rape or other sexual violence), abduction, forced displacement, or attacks on schools, hospitals, religious sites, or locations where civilians are seeking refuge, or through conduct that would constitute a serious abuse or violation of human rights or a violation of international humanitarian law; or 
  • the obstruction of [or attack on] the activities of United Nations missions — including peacekeeping missions, as well as diplomatic or humanitarian missions — in Sudan, or of the delivery of, distribution of, or access to humanitarian assistance.”

EO 14098 also authorizes the use of sanctions against individuals in leadership positions of entities that engage in the above-mentioned activities and any foreign persons that “materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of” these activities or any person or entity designated by EO 14098. While EO 14908 authorizes the use of these sanctions, it does not designate any persons or entities, and thus does not impose any actual sanctions.  

On May 4, 2023, Treasury also amended OFAC FAQ 836 to include EO 14098 on its list of sanctions authorities applicable to Sudan. FAQ 836 clarifies that, in addition to EO 14098, EO 13400, issued on Apr. 26, 2006, also falls under the sanctions authorities applicable to Sudan. EO 13400 “imposes sanctions on individuals and entities in connection with the conflict in Darfur and, in part, implements sanctions with respect to that conflict adopted by the United Nations Security Council.” The FAQ also notes that EO 13067, issued on Nov. 3, 1997, to declare a national emergency in regards to the Government of Sudan (Gos), is still in effect, and lays out previous sanctions authorities for Sudan, noting these are “no longer in effect”. 

On Jun. 1, 2023, Treasury sanctioned four military-affiliated companies “fueling both sides of the conflict in Sudan.” That same day, Treasury also issued four general licenses with the goal of delivering humanitarian aid to Sudan, stating reasons of consistency “with the humanitarian exceptions to sanctions outlined in United Nations Security Council Resolution 2664 and implemented by the U.S. in December 2022.” These GLs are especially important as – now that sanctions have been imposed – they authorize otherwise prohibited activities and transactions under EO 14098. They include:

The Charity and Security Network (C&SN) underscores the importance of Sudan GL 2, which authorizes all transactions prohibited under EO 14098 that are “ordinarily incident and necessary” to “non-commercial activities designed to directly benefit the civilian population” by NGOs, as long as they fall into one of the following categories: 

  • “Activities to support humanitarian projects to meet basic human needs, including disaster, drought, and flood relief; food, nutrition, or medicine distribution; the provision of health services; assistance for vulnerable or displaced populations, including individuals with disabilities and the elderly; and environmental programs;
  • Activities to support democracy building, including activities to support rule of law, citizen participation, government accountability and transparency, human rights and fundamental freedoms, access to information, and civil society development projects;
  • Activities to support education, including combating illiteracy, increasing access to education, international exchanges, and assisting education reform projects;
  • Activities to support non-commercial development projects directly benefiting civilians, including related to health, food security, and water and sanitation;
  • Activities to support environmental and natural resource protection including the preservation and protection of threatened or endangered species, responsible and transparent management of natural resources, and the remediation of pollution or other environmental damage; and
  • Activities to support disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs and peacebuilding, conflict prevention, and conflict resolution programs.”

(emphasis added). 

Sudan GL 2 “does not authorize funds or transfers initiated or processed with knowledge or reason to know that the intended beneficiary of such transfers is a person blocked pursuant to E.O. 14098, other than for the purpose of effecting the payment of taxes, fees, or import duties, or the purchase or receipt of permits, licenses, or public utility services.” This language mimics the language found in the December new and amended general licenses, which allows for those operating in sanctioned areas to make payments critically necessary to operate in the region, such as rent, tolls, and utilities. 

C&SN welcomes these Sudan GLs, particularly GL 2 and their breadth to include language that relates to peacebuilding and disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs, humanitarian projects, education, non-commercial development project, and environmental and resource protection – as these are all critical for not only immediate aid and assistance but to prevent further conflict within country and the region. 

C&SN will continue to monitor the situation in Sudan and OFAC’s actions regarding the country and the region and will update this page accordingly.