Remarks by Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield at a Joint Stakeout following 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


AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Good morning, again. Thank you for being here and let me start by thanking my colleague from Ireland, for joining us in presenting today’s landmark resolution which received 53 co-sponsors. Today, the UN Security Council passed a humanitarian carveout that will save countless lives. This is a win for people in need everywhere humanitarian aid workers trying to reach them as well.

Sanctions are an important tool in our arsenal. They help us constrain bad actors without resorting to violence. To stop terrorists and human rights abusers. At the same time, we hear from the humanitarian community that some UN sanctions are having second-order impacts. They unintentionally make aid more difficult to deliver. 

For our part, the United States has been working diligently to rectify any and all second-order sanction impacts. We have enacted our own carveouts for U.S. domestic sanctions programs, and proactively reached out to banks and others to explain how humanitarian activities are carved out from individual sanctions regimes when applicable.

The humanitarian community has told us that this has been incredibly helpful. But they also said that UN sanctions still needed to be addressed. They made a clear ask: create a single, standard carveout of humanitarian assistance from UN sanctions regimes.

Today, we delivered on that request. In unambiguous language, we have exempted critical humanitarian activities from UN sanctions, and in doing so, we have also made our existing UN sanctions more effective and better targeted toward bad actors. 

Years of experience have taught us a valuable lesson: Speed saves lives. Humanitarians need to act fast to get medicines to a community in need. To get a roof over the heads of freezing people, and to get food to starving children. 

Now, we have removed significant impediments. When the funds are there, and the humanitarian actors are ready, they can spring into action. They can and will save more lives – all around the globe. And that is something we can all be proud of.

Thank you and over to you.

AMBASSADOR FERGAL MYTHEN: Thank you very much, Linda. Today the Security Council adopted a resolution put forward by Ireland and the United States to establish a humanitarian carve out across all UN sanctions regimes. And I can’t think of a more fitting way to mark UN humanitarian week. This resolution has a very clear aim: to deal systematically with the unintended or unintended humanitarian consequences of UN sanctions regimes. At the Security Council for the last two years, Ireland has regularly spoken out about the need to preserve the humanitarian space. And even before joining the council, this was a priority for us. Over the last two years, we have also listened to the concerns of key actors. We heard from humanitarian organizations. They described how UN sanctions can hinder their ability to deliver for people in need on the ground. The very people who should be the center of this Council’s attention.

We know this can sound a bit abstract or technical at times, but simply put, if lifesaving provisions cannot be shipped, cannot be financed, cannot be insured, cannot be delivered – humanitarians cannot help. And if humanitarians cannot help, the result is human suffering, hunger, and even death, which is why we had to act.

That humanitarian imperative is what drove Ireland and the United States to negotiate today’s resolution. Today we change the sanctions paradigm at the UN. Today the Council, having listened, consulted, and negotiating, has taken decisive action. And by doing so the council recognizes that sanctions remain a very important tool as we seek to preserve the peace, target spoilers, and counter terrorism, we often turn to sanctions measures. They are necessary; but going forward, this counsel can now do so with renewed confidence that these restrictive measures will not prevent humanitarian organizations from doing their vital work.

Thanks to today’s resolution, humanitarians operating in some of the most complex and challenging environments in the world, need no longer fear the harmful effects of sanctions on their work. They will no longer fear that banks or other businesses would be prevented from working with them. Humanitarian assistance saves lives very simply; it should always be facilitated. And ultimately, this resolution means that for people in need – our systems will be able to get it. And for me for my delegation, and for Linda and her team, this is a good day’s work.

And just on a personal note, as you all know the Irish – U.S. relationship is very, very deep. You only have to look around this town to see how deep it is. And our teams work so well together. And this is a very, very, very good day in the Irish – U.S. story. So, thank you very much.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELDAnd we have we do have to applaud our teams for the extraordinary work.

QUESTION: Inaudible 

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I would say all of the humanitarian situations that we’re engaged in – Afghanistan, looking at the situation in Syria, looking at the situation in Burma – every single place where we’re working and providing support to humanitarian workers, will benefit. We’re getting dozens of text messages from humanitarian organizations thanking us from around the world.

QUESTION: A question on North Korea. What do you think this means for the Russia China resolution on easing of sanctions? Does the passing of this resolution have an impact on those negotiations?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We’ve always provided mechanisms for getting humanitarian assistance into DPRK. The impediment to humanitarian assistance there, is the DPRK government itself, not the sanctions regime.

AMBASSADOR MYTHEN: I’d just add there, I think that what we’re really impressed with is that fact that here we have a resolution that we’ve negotiated and consulted, and we’ve had the support of the U.S., UK, France, China, and Russia,. You know, it’s a really, really important moment, and we’ve addressed all the concerns across the board that will apply to all sanctions regimes – all sanctions regimes. It’s very, very significant. Thank you.