President Biden declares national emergency to address threat posed by humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia – Government, Public Sector

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United States: President Biden declares national emergency to address threat posed by humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia

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In an Executive Order (“EO”) signed on September 17, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden declared a state of national emergency to address the threat to US national security and foreign policy posed by “widespread violence, atrocities and serious human rights abuses” in northern Ethiopia and in the greater Horn of Africa region. The new EO authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to sanction certain foreign persons, including persons and entities who:

  • are responsible for (i) threatening the “peace, security or stability” of Ethiopia, (ii) corruption or serious human rights violations, (iii) obstruction of humanitarian aid, (iv) violent targeting of civilians, (v) an attack on the United Nations or the African Union or (vi) actions that undermine democratic processes or the territorial integrity of Ethiopia;
  • are military or security forces operating in northern Ethiopia;
  • obstruct a ceasefire or peace process in the country;
  • are subdivisions, agencies or political instruments of the Ethiopian government, the Eritrean government or its ruling Popular Front for Democracy and Justice, or certain other military and political groups; Where
  • are the spouse or adult child of any person sanctioned under the OE.

Once the decision is made, the IB authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to select one or more of the following sanctions to be imposed on the sanctioned person (including the heads of the sanctioned entities):

  • freeze all property and interest in the person’s property in the United States; and
  • prohibiting, insofar as the action would benefit the person or entity sanctioned:
    • American people to invest in stocks or debt securities of the sanctioned person;
    • US financial institutions to provide loans or grant credits to the sanctioned person; and
    • US nationals engage in foreign exchange transactions in which the sanctioned person has an interest.

The IB also allows denial of entry into the United States and denial of export licenses.

As part of the new OE, and to ensure that humanitarian aid can continue to flow to Ethiopia through authorized channels, OFAC has issued General License (“GL”) nos. 1, 2 and 3 authorize, respectively, the official activities of certain international organizations, the support activities of certain non-governmental organizations and the transactions necessary for the export of agricultural products, drugs and medical devices.

In addition, OFAC has published six new FAQs related to the new EOs and GLs, including:

  • FAQ 923, which specifies that an entity owned 50% or more by a sanctioned individual is not automatically blocked by the new EO, and must itself appear on the list of specially designated nationals (“SDN”) of the OFAC and on the list of people blocked for blocking sanctions; and
  • FAQ 924, which specifies that an entity owned by a person appearing on the list of sanctions based on OFAC’s non-SDN menus is not automatically subject to these same non-blocking sanctions, unless this entity appears separately on the list.

To date, no sanctions have been imposed under the new EO.

Primary sources

  1. Executive Decree on the Imposition of Sanctions on Certain Persons Due to the Humanitarian and Human Rights Crisis in Ethiopia
  2. OFAC general license n ° 1: Official activities of certain international organizations and other international entities
  3. OFAC General License No. 2: Certain Transactions in Support of the Activities of Non-Governmental Organizations
  4. OFAC General License No.3: Transactions related to the export or re-export of agricultural products, drugs, medical devices, spare parts and components or software updates
  5. OFAC FAQ: Sanctions related to Ethiopia – 922
  6. OFAC FAQ: Sanctions related to Ethiopia – 923
  7. OFAC FAQ: Sanctions related to Ethiopia – 924
  8. OFAC FAQ: Sanctions related to Ethiopia – 925
  9. OFAC FAQ: Sanctions related to Ethiopia – 926
  10. OFAC FAQ: Sanctions related to Ethiopia – 927

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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