Media Note: Humanitarian Community Celebrates U.S.-, Ireland-led UN Sanctions Carveout

United States Mission to the United Nations
Office of Press and Public Diplomacy
For Immediate Release
May 24, 2023

Humanitarian Community Celebrates U.S.-, Ireland-led UN Sanctions Carveout

UN Security Council Resolution 2664, put forward by the United States and Ireland, establishes a humanitarian carveout across all UN sanctions regimes. When it was adopted in December last year, the humanitarian community lauded it as ‘a milestone’ and ‘a watershed moment’ for the Council. At this morning’s side event hosted by the United States and Ireland, “Humanitarian Carveouts for UN Sanctions Regimes: The Impact and Implementation of Resolution 2664,” UN Member States, humanitarian organizations, and civil society discussed the impact of UN Security Council Resolution 2664 nearly six months on and the practical steps that need to be taken to ensure its full and effective implementation. 

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Representative to the United Nations: “In passing UN Security Council Resolution 2664, we heeded the call of our humanitarian partners, who have been advocating for a safe pathway through UN sanction regimes for over a decade. … But while the passage of the resolution was historic, we cannot rest until it is fully implemented. Last December, the United States became the first country to apply Resolution 2664 to our UN-based sanctions programs and many of our autonomous sanctions programs. The U.S. Department of the Treasury took further steps to enable the flow of legitimate humanitarian assistance. These efforts will support the essential needs of vulnerable populations around the world, while continuing to deny resources to malicious actors.” 

Ambassador Fergal Mythen, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations: “Late last year, the Security Council came together in an effort to alleviate the unintended consequences of sanctions for humanitarian action. Resolution 2664 was a ground-breaking achievement. It changed the sanctions paradigm. And Ireland was proud to partner with the United States to lead the negotiations. Protection of Civilians Week, six months since the adoption of Resolution 2664, was an opportune moment to reflect with Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, the United Nations and other humanitarian actors on what we can do to ensure full implementation.” 

Joyce Msuya, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs: “I commend the Security Council for taking this important step, and the U.S. and Ireland for spearheading the initiative. I commend those governments that have already taken steps to reflect the requirements of Resolution 2664 in their national legislation, and I urge others to do so. And I call on the States to extend humanitarian carveouts to other restrictive measures, such as counterterrorism measures, to continue engagement with humanitarians and the private sector to address issues such as overcompliance.”  

Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross: “I really want to commend the leadership of the U.S. and Ireland… This resolution as stated and adopted by the Security Council says in no uncertain terms that even when States decide to impose sanctions, humanitarian activities must be allowed and facilitated as required by international humanitarian law. The humanitarian carveouts to UN sanctions have allowed us and other organizations to really provide life-saving assistance.” 

Gisela Schmidt-Martin, Senior Advocacy Adviser for Concern Worldwide: “The U.S. and Ireland really did achieve something momentous with Resolution 2664. It was an important moment of action for the Security Council, a huge victory for the humanitarian community, and, most of all, most importantly, a massive win for the growing numbers of people requiring assistance. The language in the resolution is clear and comprehensive. It applies to all existing and future UN sanctions regimes. It really does set a new standard. This could not be more urgent, with 339 million people in need of assistance around the world. And countries most in need of support are often those where sanctions apply … such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria. In these contexts, 2664, if properly implemented, could mean the difference between life and death. 

Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council: “Over compliance and de-risking by the private sector and some donors, as well as threats of criminalization, 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 organizations 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 criminalized for doing their jobs.” 

Vanessa Jackson, Representative of CARE International to the United Nations: “The exemption will bring a more uniform and predictable approach, applicable to all contexts where sanctions regimes exist, aiding clarity, reducing risks on humanitarians and, most importantly, enabling us to assist people amid humanitarian crises faster and better. This is especially important for high-risk groups including women, children, older people, and those living with disabilities. That over 40 States on and off the Security Council co-sponsored this resolution is a strong signal of cross-regional support and also a sign that the UN Member States still value multilateralism and humanity over politics.” 

Kate Phillips-Barrasso, Vice President for Global Policy and Advocacy at Mercy Corps “This resolution is a game changer for humanitarian organizations, which have experienced confusion and faced additional risks in providing lifesaving aid. As we face record-breaking humanitarian need worldwide and humanitarian organizations like Mercy Corps face increased safety and security risks in meeting them, this clarity and the protection it brings are of paramount importance. We applaud the UN Security Council, in particular the United States and Ireland for their leadership in advancing the resolution, which recognized this challenge and took decisive steps to enable humanitarian action.”