The Commission published today a guidance note on the provision of humanitarian aid in compliance with EU restrictive measures (sanctions). This builds on previous guidance on the provision of humanitarian aid to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in certain environments subject to EU sanctions that focused on EU counterterrorism sanctions and Iran, Nicaragua, Syria and Venezuela sanctions regimes.
The guidance is designed to facilitate compliance with EU sanctions while proving that EU is committed to avoid and, where unavoidable, to mitigate to the maximum extent possible any potential unintended negative impacts of EU restrictive measures on humanitarian action. Furthermore, the guidance reaffirms key principles of international humanitarian law, including that final beneficiaries of humanitarian aid must not be vetted against EU sanctions.
This guidance comes at an important time, to provide clarifications also on the humanitarian exceptions that the Council adopted on 13 April 2022 in response to the recognition of the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine (Council Regulation (EU) 2022/263 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/266 of 23 February 2022) and the ordering of Russian armed forces into those areas and the sanctions in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine (Council Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 and Council Decision 2014/145/CFSP of 17 March 2014).
The guidance published today is meant to provide horizontal clarifications for all EU sanctions regimes. It is based on the questions received from humanitarian organisations, including international organisations, Non-Governmental organisations and banks. At the same time, it takes a granular approach to provide extensive clarifications on how humanitarian operators can provide humanitarian aid while remaining compliant with EU sanctions.
EU sanctions help to achieve key EU objectives such as preserving peace, strengthening international security, and consolidating and supporting democracy, international law and human rights. They target those who endanger these values to reduce as much as possible any adverse consequences on the civilian population. They never target impartial humanitarian organisations or actions necessary to provide humanitarian aid.