New UN Security Council humanitarian exemption to sanctions will help save lives

Published 09. Dec 2022
Statement by Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council on the adoption of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution to establish a humanitarian exemption across all United Nations sanctions regimes:

“This resolution is both greatly welcomed and greatly needed. It will protect humanitarian action from the crippling impacts of sanctions regimes at a time when needs are skyrocketing. This new protection for aid activities will, for some, be the difference between life and death. Ultimately, it will make a real difference for millions of people by enabling humanitarians to do their job in a more efficient, more effective, and safer manner.

“Over compliance and derisking by the private sector and some donors, as well as threats of criminalisation, all linked with sanctions, have for years hampered the aid sector’s ability to provide timely assistance to communities. The passing of this resolution is a major step towards undoing this harm and bringing much-needed clarity and predictability for humanitarian organisations operating in contexts impacted by sanctions. It will help protect the ever-shrinking humanitarian space, significantly reduce operational barriers, and critically help us gain vital time to support people in need. It will also help to ensure that our teams won’t be criminalised for doing their jobs.

“We commend the United States and the Republic of Ireland for their strong leadership on this issue. In negotiating the successful passing of this resolution UN Security Council Member States have demonstrated the ability to overcome differences in order to protect the humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law.

“We must now see States implementing and adhering to the letter as well as the spirit of this resolution by reflecting it domestically. It is essential for States to engage with the private sector, including banks, in order to ensure the full and complete use of the resolution. Doing so will ensure the removal of existing obstacles so that humanitarian organisations can take the next critical steps to address needs.”

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