Treasury Implements Historic Humanitarian Sanctions Exceptions
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
United States Becomes First Country to Implement New Humanitarian Resolution
WASHINGTON –Today, following this month’s adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2664, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took historic steps to further enable the flow of legitimate humanitarian assistance supporting the basic human needs of vulnerable populations while continuing to deny resources to malicious actors.
The United States and Ireland co-led the development of UNSCR 2664, which implemented a carveout from the asset freeze provisions of UN sanctions programs. To implement this new policy across U.S. sanctions programs and as the first country in the world to implement the new UNSCR, today OFAC issued or amended general licenses (GLs) to ease the delivery of humanitarian aid and ensure a baseline of authorizations for the provision of humanitarian support across many sanctions programs.
“The United States co-led the development of the humanitarian carveout Resolution at the United Nations, and we’re proud to be the first country to issue authorizations and guidance to implement it across our sanctions programs,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo. “The general licenses released today reflect the United States’ commitment to ensuring that humanitarian assistance and related trade continues to reach at-risk populations through legitimate and transparent channels, while maintaining the effective use of targeted sanctions, which remain an essential foreign policy tool. The provision of humanitarian support to alleviate the suffering of vulnerable populations is central to our American values.”
The GLs being issued or amended today provide authorizations in the following four categories:
- the official business of the U.S. government;
- the official business of certain international organizations and entities, such as the United Nations or the International Red Cross;
- certain humanitarian transactions in support of nongovernmental organizations’ (NGOs’) activities, such as disaster relief, health services, and activities to support democracy, education, environmental protection, and peacebuilding; and
- the provision of agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices, as well as replacement parts and components and software updates for medical devices, for personal, non-commercial use.
In October 2021, Treasury published a comprehensive review of its economic and financial sanctions programs which found, among other things, that while sanctions remain an essential and effective policy tool, they also must be carefully calibrated to help address their impact on the flow of legitimate humanitarian aid to those in need. It recommended implementing or streamlining, where possible and appropriate, humanitarian authorizations across sanctions programs, noting that the United States must lead global efforts to systematically address the challenges associated with conducting humanitarian activities. The GLs bolster Treasury’s ongoing work to address challenges faced by humanitarian actors operating in regions perceived as high risk for money laundering, terrorist financing, or subject to U.S. sanctions. To that end, today’s action also builds upon Treasury’s ongoing work to develop a strategy to mitigate financial sector de-risking of nonprofit organizations as directed by Congress under the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020.
Treasury is issuing these GLs across sanctions programs that did not previously have humanitarian exceptions, implementing a new standardized baseline set of authorizations across OFAC-administered programs.
Concurrently, OFAC issued 4 FAQs that provide further guidance on today’s action and the authorizations being issued or amended, including guidance for financial institutions facilitating activity for NGOs and OFAC’s due diligence expectations. For more information, please see FAQs.
For transactions not otherwise authorized or exempt from sanctions, OFAC considers license requests on a case-by-case basis and prioritizes applications, compliance questions, and other requests related to humanitarian assistance. Additional questions regarding the scope of any sanctions programs’ requirements, or the applicability or scope of any humanitarian-related authorizations, can be directed to OFAC’s Sanctions Compliance and Evaluation Division at (800) 540-6322 or (202) 622-2490, or by email at OFAC_Feedback@treasury.gov.
Additional information on OFAC’s humanitarian-related authorizations and guidance, please see the OFAC website.