Switzerland to implement the humanitarian exemption to UN sanctions regimes

Bern, 26.04.2023 - On 26 April the Federal Council adopted an ordinance to implement the humanitarian exemption introduced by UN Security Council Resolution 2664 (2022). This exemption from the application of targeted financial sanctions applies to all UN sanctions regimes. At the same time, the Federal Council is adopting the humanitarian exemption for Afghanistan provided for in Resolution 2615 (2021). The amendment to the relevant ordinances will enter into force on 1 June.

On 9 December 2022, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2664 (2022), thereby establishing a permanent and standardised humanitarian exemption to targeted financial sanctions that it had imposed. This decision is a major step forward for the humanitarian sector. It helps to strengthen the legal certainty of humanitarian organisations and commercial service providers involved in delivering aid in contexts subject to UN sanctions. In taking this decision, the Federal Council is amending 13 of its ordinances establishing UN sanctions regimes to include the humanitarian exemption provided for in Resolution 2664 (2022). It is also implementing Security Council Resolution 2615 (2021), which provides for a similar humanitarian exemption specifically designed to address the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Certain categories of humanitarian actors may now enter into business relations with, make payments to, or transfer goods to sanctioned individuals or companies where this is necessary for the delivery of humanitarian assistance or other activities to meet basic human needs. This also applies to all humanitarian actors operating in Afghanistan when faced with the need to establish business relationships with, or make transfers to, persons or entities listed under the sanctions regime against the Taliban. Commercial service providers may now provide authorised humanitarian actors with all types of goods and services necessary to carry out the activities covered by the new exemptions. The legal provisions applicable to the export, sale or brokering of goods and services are however reserved.

The Federal Council reiterates that Security Council Resolutions 2664 (2022) and 2615 (2021) call upon organisations and entities that intend to make use of these exemptions to take reasonable efforts to ensure that benefits prohibited by the sanctions that designated persons or entities might derive, whether as a result of direct or indirect provision of assistance or misappropriation, are minimised, including by strengthening risk management and due diligence strategies and processes. It also stresses that both resolutions provide for monitoring mechanisms to detect any possible misuse of exemptions.

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