Humanitarian action: EU introduces exemptions to sanctions to facilitate the delivery of assistance

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The Council today decided to modify several Council acts concerning EU restrictive measures considering the UN Security Council resolution 2664 (2022) providing for a humanitarian exemption to asset freeze measures in UN sanctions regimes.

As a result of the humanitarian exemption, certain categories of humanitarian actors, including UN programmes and non-governmental organisation participating in UN humanitarian response plans, 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.

Today’s Council decision completes the introduction of this exemption into 14 UN sanctions regimes transposed into EU law. The exemption also applies to the existing EU autonomous listings that complement the UN designations. This will provide a clear framework for operators, as they will be able to benefit from the humanitarian exemption without making any distinction between EU and UN listings.

This decision sends a strong signal to humanitarian and economic operators: 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 activities, and the importance given to the full adherence to international law in the EU’s sanctions policy.