Although Sudan has great economic potential, trade and investment are limited. Switzerland is mainly active in the field of humanitarian aid, but is stepping up its peacebuilding and development cooperation work. Sudan is part of the Greater Horn of Africa, which is a geographical priority of the Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy 2021–24.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland played an active role in the 2002 ceasefire between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. On 9 July 2011, Sudan was divided in two when people in the south of the country voted in favour of independence. The country has been undergoing a transition since 2019, when the regime of former president Omar al-Bashir was toppled following months of protests.
Switzerland is providing humanitarian aid and supporting the peace process, especially in Darfur and other regions of unrest.
Trade relations between Switzerland and Sudan are not well developed. Sudan possesses immense water reserves, vast expanses of arable land and significant natural resources.
Switzerland primarily exports pharmaceutical products to Sudan (65%) and mainly imports agricultural products (99%). There is potential for Swiss companies in the agricultural sector.
In December 2020 the United States removed Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. In keeping with its international obligations, Switzerland continues to apply UN sanctions.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers who are citizens of Sudan can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Measures to promote peace and human security
Past peacebuilding initiatives include the contribution to the ceasefire process (Nuba Mountain Ceasefire Agreement) that was negotiated and signed in Switzerland in 2002. The agreement paved the way for more in-depth negotiations, which in turn led to the signing in 2005 of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and the Sudanese government.
In 2021 Switzerland decided to reinforce its cooperation with Sudan with regard to peacebuilding, supporting a democratic transition, and respecting human rights.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland has a long-standing humanitarian aid programme in Sudan that supports those most vulnerable. This assistance focuses on food security and livelihoods, protection of civilians, and migration. In addition to emergency aid, Switzerland also supports the development of long-term solutions for internally displaced persons and refugees. Switzerland is gradually consolidating its ties with Sudan in the area of migration.
Since 1965, Charles Bonnet, an archaeologist and professor emeritus at the University of Geneva, has been the leading figure in a team of Swiss scientists conducting research in the Nubian desert to gain insights into Sudan's first inhabitants, in particular during antiquity and the prehistoric period.
Swiss citizens in Sudan
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, 54 Swiss citizens were living in Sudan and 841 Sudanese citizens were living in Switzerland at the end of 2020.
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.