September 24, 2021

OFAC issues counter-terrorism general licenses to ensure humanitarian aid to Afghanistan continues

On September 24, 2021, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued general licenses 14 and 15 to ensure that humanitarian assistance intended for civilians in Afghanistan would not be affected by US counter-terrorism sanctions.  In 2001, OFAC designated the Taliban as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to Executive Order 13224, as amended, and designated the Haqqani Network as a SDGT under EO 13224 in 2012. The Haqqani Network was also designated in 2012 as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US State Department pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  Accordingly, OFAC issued frequently asked questions 928, 929, 930, and 931 to provide additional clarity and guidance on the provisions in GLs 14 and 15 and assist non-US persons interested in providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

General license 14 authorizes the US government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and certain listed international organizations, including the United Nations, the Red Cross, and the African Development Bank Group, to engage in transactions involving the Taliban or the Haqqani Network or any entity in which these groups own a 50 percent or greater interest, as long as the transaction supports the provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. These transactions would normally be prohibited by the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations (GTSR), the Foreign Terrorist Organizations Sanctions Regulations (FTOSR), or Executive Order 13224, as amended. General license 15 provides similar exceptions for entities interested in exporting or re-exporting certain covered items to Afghanistan or for resale to Afghanistan, as long as the items are agricultural commodities such as food, medicine, and related items including replacement parts and software updates for medical devices.

In FAQs 928 and 929, OFAC provides a general overview of GLs 14 and provides examples of the types of humanitarian assistance that are authorized under GL 14.  FAQ 930 offers an overview of the provisions in GL 15 and provides that OFAC may issue specific licenses that authorize certain transactions not covered by GL 15, provided that the transaction is in the foreign policy interests of the US.  According to FAQ 931, non-US persons may engage in transactions without exposure to US sanctions as long as US persons would be authorized to engage in the transaction under GLs 14 or 15.

Department of Treasury Press Release | Department of Treasury Recent Action | General License 14 | General License 15