Bilateral relations Switzerland–Sudan

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 real economic potential, trade and investments between the two countries are limited. On the ground, Switzerland is mainly active in humanitarian operations, but is gradually strengthening its development cooperation work and its peacebuilding activities.

Sudan, once the largest state in Africa, split into two on 9 July 2011, after the people in the southern half of the country voted in favour of independence. Since 2019, the country has been undergoing a transition, after the regime of former president Omar al-Bashir was toppled following months of protests. The new transitional government includes both civilians and representatives of the army and rebel groups.

Key aspects diplomatic relations

For years, Switzerland has been delivering humanitarian aid and promoting peace in Sudan, especially in Darfur and other regions of unrest. Among other historic initiatives, Switzerland was active in the ceasefire process (Nuba Mountains Agreement) which was negotiated and signed in Switzerland on 19 January 2002. This was the starting point for further negotiations leading 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.

Sudan is part of the Greater Horn of Africa region, one of Switzerland's five geographical priorities in the Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy 2021–24.

Treaty database

Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa 2021–24 (PDF, 3.1 MB, English)

Economic cooperation

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.
Trade volume is modest, but not negligible. Swiss exports mainly pharmaceuticals (65%) to Sudan and imports almost exclusively agricultural products (99%). There is potential for Swiss companies in the agricultural sector. In December 2020 the United States removed Sudan from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST). In compliance with its international obligations, however, Switzerland continues to apply UN sanctions.

Trade promotion, Switzerland Global Enterprise

Peacebuilding and human security

Switzerland promotes human rights (strengthening Sudan's capacity to uphold human rights) and is in the process of strengthening its cooperation with Sudan in peacebuilding and support for the transition to democracy.

Development cooperation, humanitarian aid and migration

Switzerland has a long-standing humanitarian aid programme in Sudan for the most vulnerable people. This aid focuses on the following areas: food security and livelihoods, protection of the civilian population, and migration. In addition to emergency response assistance, Switzerland also supports the development of long-term solutions for internally displaced persons and refugees («durable solutions»).

Switzerland is gradually tightening its ties with Sudan in the area of migration.

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

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.

Swiss nationals in Sudan

At the end of 2020, 54 Swiss nationals were living in Sudan and 841 Sudanese nationals were living in Switzerland. 

History of bilateral relations

Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Sudan are relatively new. Switzerland's position on dispute settlement and international humanitarian law partly determines the nature of its relations with Sudan.

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

Sudan, Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (de, fr, it)