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Sanctions & Export Controls: Afghanistan - What is the right reply of the West?

Businesses trading with Afghanistan needs to be aware of UN sanctions and avoid trading with undesired individuals, groups or organisations. Export Control changes may also impact supplies to Afghanistan.


Countries that impose sanctions against Afghanistan to meet their obligations under the United Nations sanctions regime relating to Afghanistan. UN sanctions were initially imposed in 1999, in response to the actions of the Taliban, including providing sanctuary and training for international terrorist groups. Are there any changes of the horizon due to the current developments?


On the export control from, Afghanistan is a destination for which a general licence can be used. Using general licences, known, for example in the UK, as Open General Export Licences (OGEL) or EU General Export Authorisation (EU GEA).

Why sanctions against the Taliban?

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) maintains a Taliban sanctions regime in Afghanistan. The Taliban is no longer considered a terrorist organisation and is involved in political processes in Afghanistan. However, sanctions continue to apply in relation to persons and entities designated for the purposes of the Taliban sanctions regime. Many countries implement UNSC sanctions by incorporating them into national sanctions law.


What restrictive measures?


The Taliban sanctions regime of the UN imposes the following sanctions measures:

  • restrictions on supplying arms and related material

  • restrictions on providing services related to military activities (technical, financial or other assistance, or training

  • restrictions on providing assets to designated persons or entities

  • restrictions on dealing with the assets of designated persons or entities

  • travel bans on designated persons


Restrictions on supplying arms or related material

It is prohibited to directly or indirectly supply, sell or transfer arms or related matériel to The Taliban, or to a person or entity designated for the purpose of The Taliban regime.


Arms or related matériel includes, but is not limited to, weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, and spare parts and accessories for any of those things. It also includes paramilitary equipment. While each case will be considered individually, goods on the national dual-use and military list of the country of consideration (where applicable) are likely to be considered arms or related matériel. Depending on the context, end-user and end-use, other goods may also be considered arms or related material.


Restrictions on providing certain services

It is prohibited to supply technical advice, assistance or training related to military activities to the Taliban or to a person or entity designated for the purposes of the UN sanctions regime


Restrictions of providing assets to designated persons or entities

It is prohibited to directly or indirectly make an asset available to (or for the benefit of) The Taliban or to a person or entity designated for the purposes of the UN sanctions regime.


Restrictions on dealing with the assets of designated persons or entities (requirement to freeze assets)

It is prohibited to use or deal with an asset, or allow or facilitate another person to use or deal with an asset owned or controlled by a designated person or entity (the assets are ‘frozen and cannot be used or dealt with). The prohibition on ‘dealing’ with assets includes using, selling or moving assets. ‘An 'asset' includes an asset or property of any kind, whether tangible or intangible, movable or immovable.


If you become aware that you are holding an asset of a designated person or entity, you are required to freeze (hold) that asset and notify the national sanction's authority as soon as possible.


Travel bans

All persons designated for the UN sanctions regime are prohibited from travelling to or entering a country implementing these sanctions.


The Taliban on the UK sanctions list

The UK government publishes the UK sanctions list, which provides details of those designated under regulations made under the Sanctions Act. The list also details which sanctions measure apply to these persons or ships, and in the case of UK designations, provides a statement of reasons for the designation. This includes the Taliban.


The Taliban on the EU sanctions list

The EU has an extensive list including of Taliban persons listed on their consolidated sanctions list. Access the latest list: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/europeaid/fsd/fsf/public/files/pdfFullSanctionsList/content?token=dG9rZW4tMjAxNw


What about export controls?

The UK has already acted on 18 August 2021. The Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) has removed Afghanistan as a permitted destination from 5 open general export licences. You are no longer able to use these licences to export to Afghanistan. Businesses need to apply for standard individual licences (SIELs) instead.


The affected licences are:

  • OGEL (export after the exhibition: dual-use items)

  • OGEL (export for repair/replacement under warranty: dual-use items) from December 2019

  • OGEL (export for repair/replacement under warranty: dual-use items)

  • OGEL (X) - from December 2019

  • OGEL (X)


The EU is yet to react.


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