The State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) announced on May 4, 2016 that, effective immediately, it would start considering requests to conduct defense-related trade with Sri Lanka under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). This reverses the previous U.S. policy to deny ITAR license applications for Sri Lanka due to concerns about stability and human rights abuses during that country’s decades-long civil war. The State Department had gained the authority to make this change after statutory restrictions on arms trade with Sri Lanka were not renewed in the applicable 2016 appropriations law. The civil war largely ended in 2009, though elements of that persistent conflict continue to simmer.

The State Department announced the following day, on May 5, 2016, that it would implement the same policy of case-by-case review for ITAR license applications for Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), again reversing the previous policy of denial, which had been based on an arms embargo mandated by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). UNSC Resolution 2283 (April 28, 2016) had terminated the arms embargo based on improvements in the political and security situation in Côte d’Ivoire.

UNSC Resolution 2283 also terminated the Côte d’Ivoire travel and financial sanctions imposed by UNSC Resolution 1572 (November 15, 2004), which could provide an opening for the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to terminate some or all of the U.S. sanctions on individuals in Côte d’Ivoire. It remains to be seen what action OFAC will take, if any, in response to these UN developments. OFAC currently maintains sanctions against six individuals in Côte d’Ivoire for contributing to violence and instability in that country, under Executive Order 13396 (February 7, 2006). If OFAC did terminate its Côte d’Ivoire sanctions, that would be the second termination of a sanctions program in Africa in the past six months, after the Liberia program was terminated in November 2015.