UN Security Council urged to mitigate sanctions' unintended effects
UN Security Council urged to mitigate sanctions' unintended effects

Efforts must be made by the UN Security Council to better mitigate the unintended negative impact of sanctions and curtail unilateral coercive measures that continue to negatively affect the very populations they are meant to protect, said UN officials on Monday.

UN sanctions are "no longer the blunt instrument" they once were, but concerns remain, Rosemary DiCarlo, under-secretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs, told the Security Council debate on general issues relating to sanctions: preventing their humanitarian and unintended consequences.

The council convened the debate, one of the signature events of Russia's council presidency for the month of February, allowing the council to consider a range of UN sanctions-related matters.

Various resolutions make it clear that sanctions are "not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for the civilian populations," DiCarlo said.

Highlighting several areas for action, the UN political affairs chief said member states can "minimize the burden" of additional due diligence and reporting requirements on humanitarian actors by keeping their domestic legislation as close as possible to council language.

Other vital actions include continued monitoring by the council's sanctions committees for possible negative consequences and increasing cooperation with humanitarian actors and the private sector, she added.

More can be done "to reduce the possible adverse consequences of sanctions," she said, recalling the Security Council resolution 2615 which affirmed that humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan does not violate the council's sanction measures.

Martin Griffiths, under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said "humanitarian carve-outs, as we now have on Afghanistan, can allow us to continue our programs for those at greatest risk."

Mitigating the humanitarian impact of sanctions requires the international community to continue reviewing the way sanctions are designed and implemented, he said, urging the council and member states to ensure that measures applicable in armed conflict do not impede the assistance and protection activities of impartial humanitarian organizations for persons who are not fighting.

"In all contexts, they should ensure that sanctions do not restrict the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights including the right to food, water, shelter and health," he said.

To this end, the council and others imposing sanctions should include comprehensive humanitarian carve-outs from the outset rather than case-by-case authorization procedures, he added. 

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