Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield Before a UN Security Council Vote on a Humanitarian Carveout Resolution

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 9, 2022


Thank you, Madam President. And since this if my first time in the chair since you took over as President, I would like to welcome you to the chair. We look forward to working with you. And I also want to take the opportunity to thank our colleagues from Ghana for their presidency over the last month.

Colleagues, the United States is proud to introduce, together with Ireland, this landmark resolution that will save lives. As the world’s leading global humanitarian donor, the United States has always understood the centrality of humanitarian access for aid delivery. Our partners operate in dangerous environments and they face serious risks.

We hope the members of this Council will vote in favor of this resolution, because we must all do everything in our power to help humanitarian partners reach the world’s most vulnerable, regardless of where they live, who they live with, and who controls their territory.

The United States decided to pursue this initiative after extensive thought and deliberation. We made a point to proactively reach out and listen to the UN and NGO community. We heard about the challenges they face, and how we, as an international community, can best support their lifesaving efforts. They told us that the second-order impacts of some UN sanctions were creating an impediment to humanitarian assistance in the field.

To be clear, this is not related to the merits of the sanctions themselves. The Council has reached consensus – repeatedly – in upholding UN sanctions as an effective foreign policy tool to constrain bad actors, terrorists, and human rights abusers. Our goal is always to stop terrorists and human rights abusers by using a legitimate tool to maintain peace and security, but still allow lifesaving humanitarian efforts to continue for those in need.

Bilaterally, in response to the concerns of the humanitarian community, the United States has already stepped up. The U.S. Treasury Department has issued licenses to facilitate humanitarian aid and the provision of food and medicine. We reached out directly to banks to explain how humanitarian activities would be carved out from individual sanctions regimes when applicable. And we have offered letters to further clarify our position.

The humanitarian community told us that these efforts have been incredibly helpful. And we know we have more work to do on this front. But the humanitarian community also shared that UN sanctions still need to be addressed to ensure that unintentional, second-order impacts don’t impede their work. They asked for a clear, standard carveout of humanitarian assistance and activities to meet basic human needs for all UN sanctions regimes. And that is exactly what we are voting on today.

Colleagues, this resolution is impartial. It makes sense. And it will save innocent lives all around the world. It is what the humanitarian community has asked us for. And I urge you to vote “yes” and to support this lifesaving, landmark commitment to humanitarian work.

Thank you, Madam President.