Region: Northern Africa
Population: 40,218,455 (July 2008 est.)
Surface area: 2,505,810 sq km
Currency: CFA Sudanese pounds (SDG)
GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $2,200 (2007 est.)
The Sudan, continues to face a number of human rights challenges. While progress has been made in legislative and institutional reforms, the overall democratic transformation of the Sudan has remained precarious. Parts of the legal framework, such as the National Security Act and the Criminal Act, infringe on fundamental rights and freedoms. The harmonization of national laws with international human rights principles, as envisaged by the CPA, has advanced at a slow pace. Restrictions on civil and political rights persist. Increasing demands by political opposition groups, civil society organizations and students for democratic reforms have been met with arrests and detention by the security forces. Impunity for human rights violations remains a recurring problem.
In Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states as well as in other border areas, clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) have caused human rights violations and large-scale displacements. The implementation of political agreements and the finalization of negotiations between the Sudan and South Sudan are critical for the improvement of the human rights situation in these areas, as well as for wider regional stability.
Sudan is the largest country in Africa by land area, with rich natural resources and an estimated population of 42 million in 2010. It borders nine different countries and has a coast line of 500 miles on the Red Sea. Sudan has many different peoples, languages and cultures. Numerically no one group dominates, but in practice there is considerable inequality between a centre, dominated by people from Khartoum and the North, particularly the villages along the Nile, and a far larger periphery. A referendum took place in Southern Sudan from January 9 to January 15, 2011, on whether the region should remain a part of Sudan or become independent. The referendum was one of the consequences of the 2005 Naivasha Agreement between the Khartoum central government and theSudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). A simultaneous referendum was supposed to be held in Abyei on whether to become part of Southern Sudan but it has been postponed due to conflict over demarcation and residency rights. On February 7, 2011, the referendum commission published the final results, with 98.83 percent voting in favour of independence.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005 ushered in a new era for the Sudan, ending over 20 years of civil strife and paving the way for the independence of South Sudan in 2011 by popular referendum. The Sudan, however, continues to face a number of human rights challenges. While progress has been made in legislative and institutional reforms, the overall democratic transformation of the Sudan has remained precarious.
According to this document, GDP growth declined from 5% in 2010 to 2.8% in 2011 due to the secession of South Sudan reducing the population by about 20% and oil revenue by 75%.
Average inflation surged to 20% in 2011, up from 15% in 2010, owing to the rise in food prices and the depreciation of the Sudanese pound. The current account deficit fell to 7.5% of GDP in 2010, but is expected to rise to 10.5% of GDP in 2011. Sudan’s budget deficit was 5.0% in 2011 and is estimated to increase to 5.4% of GDP in 2012 due to the loss of oil revenue, intensifying armed conflicts and increased security threats, the creation of new states and the financing of peace agreements. As a result of US sanctions as well as Sudan’s heavy debt, external borrowing options are severely limited and internal borrowing is likely to increase.
The government has put in place a three-year emergency economic programme introducing austerity measures aimed at cutting spending. This programme has partially removed subsidies on sugar and petroleum products, a step welcomed by the IMF. Sudan’s fiscal policy centers on restoring fiscal prudence at all levels of government by controlling expenditure in the medium term and using the non-oil deficit as a key fiscal indicator. It also focuses on strengthening accountability in the use of public funds, and on building capacity to improve the effectiveness of resource allocation including in the states where responsibility for front line service delivery lies.
The secession of the South has led to the depletion of foreign exchange reserves. The Governor of the Bank of Sudan (BoS) has therefore appealed to Arab countries to deposit funds into the Bank of Sudan and commercial banks. Sudan is also hoping that transit fees charged to the South for using its oil pipelines will help cushion the impact of secession, but negotiations over transit fees and other disputed issues stalled in January 2012.
Sudan’s medium-term growth prospects are not bright, with GDP growth estimated at 2% in 2012. This is the result of the secession of South Sudan and subsequent fiscal adjustment, the intensification of armed conflicts in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, the narrow production base and anti-growth macroeconomic policies, reflected in a highly overvalued real exchange rate.
In 2009, labor force participation and the unemployment rates among youth were 32.9% and 22.0%, respectively, compared to 43.0% and 11% for adults. Sudan’s high population growth rate has resulted in a relatively young population and a high proportion of youth of working age at a time when fewer jobs are being created. Existing youth employment programmes are not coordinated under a coherent national growth and employment strategy that focuses on youth and no measures have been taken to address disparities in employment along urban-rural and gender lines.