Tell Biden to Lift Sanctions for COVID Relief

President Biden; Vice President Kamala Harris; White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain; Sec. of State Antony Blinken; Sec. of Defense Lloyd Austin; Sec. of the Treasury Janet Yellen; Sec. of Commerce Gina Raimondo

Liftthesanction

We urge the Biden administration to issue a worldwide temporary general license to allow all countries and locations sanctioned by the U.S. to be able to easily import all related medicines, medical supplies, and vaccines, to facilitate international relief efforts related to COVID-19.

The U.S. Treasury Department has the power to issue a worldwide, temporary general license authorizing the exportation and re-exportation of medical supplies and equipment and other essential goods that might otherwise be prohibited by sanctions. The temporary general license would not require Congress to suspend or repeal sanctions and would only cover the listed types of supplies and equipment. By making it clear these types of financial transactions are allowable, this license would aid in the donation or sale of items such as test kits, respirators, sanitizers, personal protective equipment, and medicine, which are all critical for preventing and treating COVID-19.

U.S. economic sanctions technically exempt humanitarian items -- but banks, insurance companies, and other corporations are afraid that if they make loans, provide insurance for shipments or send goods the U.S. government will accuse them of violating the sanctions, levy hefty fines and place them on a banned business list.

As a result of broad U.S. economic sanctions countries such as Iran, Syria, Venezuela, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe struggle without adequate food, electricity, medicine, medical supplies, masks and respirators. Those who suffer most under sanctions include pregnant women, children, the chronically ill.

An April 2020 Human Rights Watch report explained that sanctions have had a particularly detrimental effect on Iran’s healthcare system, as the country lacks access to critical medical equipment and medicine despite existing exemptions. UN Human Rights Commissioner Michele Bachelet echoed this point when she called for an easing of sanctions for COVID-19 relief. Past Republican and Democratic Party administrations have issued temporary general licenses after earthquakes in Iran—so there is precedent for following through on this request.

To: President Biden; Vice President Kamala Harris; White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain; Sec. of State Antony Blinken; Sec. of Defense Lloyd Austin; Sec. of the Treasury Janet Yellen; Sec. of Commerce Gina Raimondo
From: [Your Name]

We urge your administration to issue a worldwide temporary general license to facilitate the importation of food, medicine, and other supplies critical for easing human suffering and slowing the spread of COVID-19 during this pandemic.

Learn more at liftthesanctions.org