February 16, 2023

EU and UK adopt humanitarian exemptions for several financial sanctions regimes

The UK and the EU recently adopted humanitarian exemptions for multiple sanctions regimes in order to implement Resolution 2664, which was adopted by the United National Security Council on December 9, 2022 to minimize the unintended adverse humanitarian effects of asset freezes associated with several UN sanctions regimes.  To this end, on February 14, 2023, the Council of the EU adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2023/338 and Council Regulation (EU) 2023/331 to provide a humanitarian exemption for EU sanctions regimes concerning restrictive measures against Somalia, the Central African Republic, Yemen, Haiti, Iraq and persons suspected of involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.  The exemption applies to activity related to the provision of humanitarian assistance by the UN and its specialized agencies, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations that participate in UN Humanitarian Response Plans, Refugee Response Plans, or other efforts coordinated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (“OCHA”).

The UK also adopted The Sanctions (Humanitarian Exception) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 in order to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2664 in the UK. The UK’s humanitarian exception, which came into effect on February 9, 2023, amends several UK sanctions regulations concerning restrictive measures concerning the following jurisdictions: North Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the South Sudan, Iran, ISIL/Al-Qaida, the Central African Republic, Lebanon, Somalia, Mali, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and Haiti.  The UK also published updated charity sector guidance that incorporates the new humanitarian exceptions.

EU – Council Decision (CFSP) 2023/338 | EU Council Regulation (EU) 2023/331 | UK – The Sanctions (Humanitarian Exception) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 | UN Press Release (December 2022)