On September 24, 2021, the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued two General Licenses—(i) General License 14, “Authorizing Humanitarian Activities in Afghanistan” (“GL 14”), and (ii) General License 15, “Transactions Related to the Exportation or Reexportation of Agricultural Commodities, Medicine, Medical Devices, Replacement Parts and Components, or Software Updates in Afghanistan” (“GL 15”)—to “support the continued flow of humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan.” OFAC also published four related Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”)—FAQs 928, 929, 930, and 931—to provide additional clarity on the scope of these General Licenses. OFAC stated that the issuance of GL 14 and GL 15 continues the “US government’s longstanding practice of authorizing the provision of humanitarian goods and services to areas affected by US sanctions,” while upholding and enforcing US sanctions against the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and other sanctioned entities.
GL 14 authorizes the US government, non-government organizations (“NGOs”), and certain international organizations and entities, as well as those acting on their behalf, to engage in the provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan or other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan. GL 14 also authorizes US persons to engage in transactions or activities that are ordinarily incident and necessary to authorized humanitarian assistance to or other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan. FAQ 928 clarifies that US sanctions on the Taliban and the Haqqani network do not prohibit humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan so long as the assistance is authorized by GL 14. FAQ 929 defines “humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan” and “other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan” in the context of GL 14.
GL 15 authorizes certain transactions related to the exportation or reexportation of agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices, as well as replacement parts, components, and software updates for medical devices as defined within GL 15. GL 15 also covers third parties purchasing these items specifically for resale to Afghanistan, subject to certain conditions. FAQ 930 clarifies activities and transactions covered by GL 15.
The FAQs further clarify that GLs 14 and 15 allow non-US persons to engage in or facilitate authorized transactions without exposure to sanctions under the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR Part 594, the Foreign Terrorist Organizations Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR Part 597, or Executive Order 13224, as amended. Neither GL 14 nor GL 15 authorizes any debit to a blocked account on the books of a US financial institution or financial transfer to the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, or any entity owned 50% or more by either group.
The authors acknowledge the assistance of Ryan Orange with this blog post.