China blocks UN resolution on humanitarian exemptions to Afghan sanctions

China, backed by Russia, blocked a US draft resolution Monday in the UN Security Council that would have provided a system for humanitarian exceptions to economic sanctions imposed on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

The UN Security Council chamber in January 2020.
The UN Security Council chamber in January 2020. © Spencer Platt, Getty Images via AFP (file photo)

"They want the deletion" of a paragraph of the resolution allowing the sanctions committee responsible for Afghanistan to provide "exemptions from the freezing of assets" if it considers that "such a waiver is necessary to facilitate further assistance to Afghanistan," a diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity. 

China, which is "opposed in principle to sanctions," is "against a case-by-case exemption mechanism," another diplomat confirmed.

"Humanitarian aid and life-saving assistance must be able to reach the Afghan people without any hindrance," China's UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said in a tweet Monday. "Artificially created conditions or restrictions are not acceptable."

Washington was hoping for approval on Monday of their draft by the other 14 members of the Security Council, so that they could put it to a vote on Tuesday, diplomatic sources said. 

"There are currently no humanitarian exemptions from the sanctions regime" imposed on the Taliban in 2015 and for aid workers to "carry out financial transactions with ministries headed by people under sanctions would violate sanctions," said a diplomat.

Having abandoned the disputed paragraph on case-by-case exemptions, the United States submitted a new draft late Monday stating that, for the period of one year, humanitarian assistance would not be deemed to violate sanctions on Afghanistan.

Martin Griffiths, the UN's head of humanitarian affairs, said that "the need for liquidity and stabilisation of the banking system is now urgent -- not only to save the lives of the Afghan people but also to enable humanitarian organizations to respond."


Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Take international news everywhere with you! Download the France 24 app