Bilateral relations

Switzerland played an active role in the ceasefire agreement concluded in 2002 between the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). Although Sudan enjoys an economic potential, trade exchange and investment between both countries are limited. While the Swiss humanitarian aid is engaged in Sudan, it is not a priority country for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Sudan, once the largest state in Africa, split into two countries on 9 July 2011 after the people of the South voted in favour of independence. 

Key aspects diplomatic relations

For years, Switzerland has been delivering humanitarian aid as well as promoting peace in Sudan, especially in Darfur and other regions of unrest. Among other initiatives, Switzerland was active in the ceasefire process (The Nuba Mountains Agreement) which was negotiated and signed in Switzerland on 19 January 2002. This was the starting point of further negotiations which led to the conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Government of the Republic of Sudan.

Bilateral treaties

Economic cooperation

Trade between Switzerland and Sudan started in the 1950s. Switzerland imported cotton and peanuts and exported chemical products, machines and watches. Trade between the two countries is relatively undeveloped but could increase over the coming years. Sudan has huge water reserves and large areas of undeveloped fertile land as well as important natural resources (Sudan is the world's largest producer of gum arabic and also has oil, gold, silver, copper and many other resources).

Various international and national sanctions have been imposed on Sudan (US, EU, UN). The United States recently decided to lift its sanctions on Sudan temporarily – a move that could facilitate trade between Sudan and its economic partners, including Switzerland. In compliance with its international obligations, however, Switzerland continues to apply UN sanctions.

Trade promotion, Switzerland Global Enterprise

Peacebuilding and human security

Switzerland contributes to the promotion of human rights (e.g. Strengthening Human Rights Capacity in Sudan, in particular in Darfur; women empowerment projects) and some aspects of the outstanding issues between Sudan and South Sudan after secession (in particular debt management). It contributes to the Darfur Community Peace and Stability Fund (DCPSF).

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

Switzerland has been delivering support in the areas of humanitarian aid (food security and livelihood, health, water supply and sewage as well as protection of the internally displaced persons). Swiss Humanitarian Aid contributes to projects in Darfur and South Kordofan.

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

Swiss nationals in Sudan

There are 79 Swiss citizens living in Sudan. Some of them have been living in Sudan for many years and possess Sudanese citizenship as well. Most of the rest are working either for the ICRC, UN agencies or NGOs.

Cultural exchanges

Since 1965, Charles Bonnet, archaeologist and professor emeritus at Geneva University has been the figurehead of a Swiss team of Scientists who are conducting research in the Nubian desert in order to better understand the previous settlers of Sudan, in particular during antiquity and in the prehistoric period.

History of bilateral relations

The bilateral relations between Switzerland and Sudan are historically recent. Switzerland’s stance on dispute settlement or international humanitarian law can also be found at the roots of its relationship with Sudan.

Sudan’s centuries of association with Egypt were formally terminated in 1956 when the joint British-Egyptian condominium or joint authority ended its rule over the country. Switzerland recognised the Sudan in 1956 and established diplomatic relations in 1960. A year later, it opened a diplomatic mission in the capital Khartoum.

Entry in the Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (de, fr, it)