EU introduces further exceptions to sanctions to facilitate the delivery of assistance

Mass protest against Maduro's regime, Caracas, Venezuela, 2019.

The Council today decided to introduce humanitarian exceptions to asset freeze measures in 10 EU restrictive measures regimes.

As a result of the decision, certain categories of humanitarian actors, including those outlined in the UN Security Council resolution 2664 (2022), as well as organisations and agencies certified as humanitarian partners of the EU or its member states and member states’ specialised agencies can engage in transactions with listed individuals and entities without any prior authorisation, if the purpose is to deliver humanitarian assistance or to support other activities that support basic human needs of people in need.

On 9 December 2022, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2664 (2022), which provides a “humanitarian carve-out” – a standing humanitarian exemption – to the asset freeze measures imposed by United Nations sanctions regimes.

On 14 February 2023, the Council decided to introduce the humanitarian exemption pursuant to resolution 2664 in the UN sanctions regimes at EU level, and on 31 March 2023, the Council introduced the humanitarian exemption in the so-called UN/EU mixed sanctions regimes in which EU measures complement sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council.

Today’s decision increases consistency and coherence across EU restrictive measures regimes and with those adopted at UN level or by other international partners in order to safeguard principled humanitarian action by impartial humanitarian actors.

Furthermore, the Council decided to review regularly the humanitarian exceptions in these 10 regimes as well as in certain other EU restrictive measures regimes to evaluate their adequacy and if needed adapt them in the future.

This decision sends a strong signal to both humanitarian and economic operators, as well as those in need of humanitarian aid: EU sanctions do not stand in the way of delivering humanitarian assistance. It demonstrates the EU’s steadfast determination to avoid unintended negative consequences of sanctions on humanitarian action, and the importance given to the full adherence to international law in the EU’s sanctions policy.

The 10 sanctions frameworks amended today are regimes established in view the situations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Guinea, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Tunisia, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and in relation to cyber-attacks.

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