International Sanctions

Introduction


International sanctions regimes represent an important instrument for the maintenance of international peace and security. Sanctions are meant to induce a change in the activities or policies that do not comply with certain standards of conduct shared by the international community.

After the end of the Cold War, the sanctions adopted under the auspices of the United Nations, and subsequently by the European Union, have been increasingly used as an "intermediary" tool between negotiations and coercive action, which aims to induce the desired behavior and help avoid recourse to armed force. With their more and more frequent use, sanctions regimes have started to change characteristics, under constant pressure to avoid collateral effects and to focus their impact on target groups.

The need to protect the most vulnerable segments of the population living in States that are subject to restrictive measures led to avoidance of complete prohibition regimes like those originally provided for in Article 41 of the United Nations Charter. Such first generation measures were directed against States whose governments were responsible for threats to international peace and security, and not against the persons directly responsible for the situation. Progressively, new restrictive measures came into force, such as arms embargoes, travel bans, freezing of funds belonging to specific persons or entities. Moreover, the documents have included new provisions establishing exceptions from the implementation of sanctions.

Such changes were also justified by the need to make sanctions more efficient as policy instruments in the service of diplomacy, so that they should affect directly the targeted groups whose conduct must change, including, most often, the ruling elites.

The types of sanctions used at the international level by the United Nations, the European Union and the OSCE are economic (restrictions on import, export, investments, arms embargoes), financial (freezing of funds and other economic resources), travel restrictions and diplomatic sanctions, transport measures (road, air and sea) and boycotts of sports or cultural events.

In the process of drafting and implementing individual sanctions, the international community observes human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the right of listed persons or entities to a fair trial and access to effective remedies. Moreover, the measures are proportionate to the pursued aim and must be accompanied by a regime of exceptions that takes into account the basic needs of the listed persons/entities.