Mr. President,

The United Arab Emirates would like to thank the Russian Federation for organizing this debate. A discussion about the potential humanitarian or other unintended consequences of sanctions is long overdue.

I also thank Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Ms. Rosemary Di Carlo, and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. Martin Griffiths for their briefings.

Mr. President,

The UAE considers sanctions a valuable and useful tool of the Security Council to maintain international peace and security. In certain situations, they can be effective at achieving the Council’s objectives without resorting to force, such as supporting peace processes, resolving disputes, countering terrorism, and promoting non-proliferation.

Yet, as history has shown, ill-conceived or ill-implemented sanctions can have a severe humanitarian impact. The UAE believes sanctions measures should not prevent humanitarian actors from undertaking their essential work, nor humanitarian assistance from getting to those in need.

As an elected member of the Security Council, and as chair and vice-chair of sanctions committees, the UAE commits to take into consideration the humanitarian imperative in all decision-making. As such, the UAE would like to highlight several recommendations to minimize any potential humanitarian or other unintended consequences of sanctions:

First, the potential humanitarian consequences of sanctions should systematically be considered in the design of each and every sanction regime and addressed wherever applicable.  This means, first and foremost, providing clarity on the scope of sanctions to reduce risks of overcompliance by Member states and private actors. 

There are currently only a few regimes that include humanitarian exemptions or carveouts. We should learn from these examples, what has worked and what has not, and insert explicit clauses to minimize unintended consequences on the civilian population. We stress here that the design may be adapted on a case-by-case basis, to take into consideration the broader context on the ground. We recognize that there are other important considerations that we must integrate in sanctions design, particularly risks of diversion or looting of humanitarian aid, as we have seen done by groups and non-state actors to finance their war efforts or their terrorist and illegal activities.

Second, constant reevaluation and adaptation of sanctions, throughout their life span, is necessary to protect the affected populations from unintended adverse consequences. Such evaluations must be based on an assessment methodology that is independent and transparent. We would welcome further discussions on what would be the most appropriate mechanism to undertake this important task.

We stress here that the Council’s responsibility to address the humanitarian imperative does not end with its initial design of sanctions. The Council should be responsive to issues as they arise, and seek to address them, including through adjustments and implementation assistance notices, among other means. This would be of benefit to all: the civilian population of affected countries, the humanitarians and private sector actors who operate within that context, but also the Member States bound to implement sanctions.

Third, to better understand the humanitarian impact of specific sanctions measures on the ground, Sanctions Committees should use the various tools at their disposal, including through, for example, Committee visits to countries affected by sanctions.

Finally, we stress that the Chairs of Sanctions Committees must be more involved in drafting Council products. Sanctions Chairs can bring a valuable perspective, including on potential humanitarian impact, given their day-to-day understanding of sanctions regimes and their interactions with affected countries.

Mr. President,

To conclude, we hope this is the first of many discussions on this important topic during our term. As Council members, we all have a duty to ensure that sanctions measures continue to be an effective and useful tool for the Council. We must be ready to constantly readjust, suspend, or terminate the measures we impose, to keep them fit for purpose and legitimate, as well as to protect the civilian population from unintended adverse impacts. We firmly believe that this is achievable. We should be able to draw upon the Council’s ample experience, and continue to innovate and improve the design and implementation of sanctions.

I thank you Mr. President.