Embargoes and sanctions on South Sudan

Embargoes on South Sudan and how to apply for an export licence.


This guide contains information about embargoes and sanctions on South Sudan, and provides information for exporters. You can find more general information here on sanctions, embargoes and restrictions, and a list of all the countries where there are current restrictions.

Almost all governments control the export of goods for different reasons, depending on the nature and destinations of the proposed exports. The export of strategic goods and technologies are controlled for various reasons including:

  • concerns about a country’s internal repression of its citizens, regional instability and other human rights violations
  • concerns about the development of weapons of mass destruction
  • foreign policy and international treaty commitments, such as the imposition of EU or UN trade sanctions or arms embargoes
  • concerns for the national and collective security of the UK and its allies

An arms embargo is in force on South Sudan. This is an EU imposed embargo which is directly applicable in UK law.

South Sudan became an independent state on 9 July 2011 following a referendum held in January 2011.

This guide outlines relevant information about the arms embargo on South Sudan only. It explains the extent of the arms embargo and outlines the UK and international laws that enforce it. You can also find out how to apply for an export licence to South Sudan and the basis for assessment of each licence application.

Export control updates

If you intend to export to South Sudan, you should keep yourself well informed of the current situation through the media and other information channels.

To keep informed of latest updates about arms embargoes and changes to strategic export control legislation, please subscribe to the Export Control Organisation’s Notices to Exporters.

Extent of the arms embargo on South Sudan

An arms embargo is a ban on the export of ‘arms and related material’ (ie military ammunition, weapons and goods). This can be put in place by either the UN, the EU, the Organisation on Security and Co-operation in Europe or at a UK national level.

The UK interprets an arms embargo as covering all goods and items on the UK Military List (which forms part of the UK Strategic Export Control Lists), unless stated otherwise.

Some items not on the UK Military List may still need an export licence. This is known as the Military End-Use Control. You will need a licence to export items to South Sudan under the following circumstances:

  • dual-use items that are or may be for use with military equipment
  • dual-use items that may be for use as parts of military goods illegally obtained from the UK

Read the guide on Military End-Use Control.

If you know or suspect that your exports to South Sudan fall under either of these categories, you must tell the Export Control Organisation (ECO), which will tell you if you need a licence.


The arms embargo also prohibits:

  • technical assistance, brokering services and other military-related services
  • financing or financial assistance related to military activities for use in South Sudan

The embargo does not prohibit:

  • non-lethal military equipment for humanitarian or protective use, eg by the UN’s UNAMID force and the EU
  • material for crisis management operations
  • mine clearance equipment and materiel
  • protective clothing, such as flak jackets and military helmets, for use by personnel from the UN, EU, EU member states, media organisations, and members of humanitarian and development organisations

Trade Control Restrictions

South Sudan is also subject to Trade Controls under Schedule 4 Part 2 of the Export Control Order 2008. This means that the destination is both embargoed and subject to transit control for military goods. For more information, see the guides on transport controls and trafficking and brokering (trade controls).

Apply for an export licence to South Sudan

Exporters can apply for an export licence for their goods using the ECO’s system for export licence applications, SPIRE. All applications will be considered by the government on a case-by-case basis in line with the provisions of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. Read the guide on assessment of export licence applications: criteria and policy.

For details on different export licences available see the guide on licences: export, trade control and transhipment.

When applying for a licence, you should be aware of the current licence processing times by destination. You can view details of licensing statistics on the ECO Reports and Statistics website.

In applying and using any licence, exporters should be aware of their responsibilities. For more information, see the guide on compliance and enforcement of export controls.

If you are unsure if your goods are controlled, you should read the guide about strategic exports: when to request an export licence.

South Sudan arms embargo key legislation

South Sudan officially became the world’s 193rd country on 9 July 2011. This followed a referendum held in January 2011 in which 98.93% of inhabitants in the previous autonomous region opted for seceding from Sudan.

The arms embargo on South Sudan has been imposed by EU laws and implemented in the UK by statutory instruments.  

UN Security Council Resolutions

After fighting broke out in the Sudanese region of Darfur in 2003, in a renewal of the country’s civil war, an arms embargo was imposed by the UN Security Council.

The embargo came into force in 2004, with the passing of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1556. It was extended in 2005 with Resolution 1591, which has now been incorporated into UK law.

You can access copies of UN resolutions on the UN Security Council website.

EU Legislation

On 19 July 2011, the European Council imposed Council Decision 2011/423/CFSP which imposed sanctions on the new state of South Sudan (as well as concerning sanctions on Sudan. This Decision is published in the Official Journal of the European Union (L188 , 19.7.2011, p20).

The EU have subsequently issued implementing legislation in the form of Council Regulation (EU) No 1215/2011 which came into force on 25 November 2011.

You can find the latest updates to EU legislation on the European Commission website.

UK legislation

The relevant UK laws that apply to the arms embargo on South Sudan are the:

For more information, see the guide on the Export Control Order 2008.

You can access copies of any UK legislation on the website.

Further information

BIS ECO Helpline

020 7215 4594 or Email:

Subscribe to the Export Control Organisation’s Notices to Exporters

You can view details of licensing statistics on the ECO Reports and Statistics website.

Security Council resolutions on the UN website.

Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) legislation on the Europa website.

Country profiles on the UK Trade & Investment website.

Current UK financial sanctions explained on the HM Treasury website.

Published 13 August 2012