UN: Sanctions

Updated: Jan 9, 2020

The Security Council can take action to maintain or restore international peace and security under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Chapter VII provides the framework within which the Security Council may take enforcement action. It allows the Council to "determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression" and to make recommendations or to resort to non-military and military action to "maintain or restore international peace and security".

Sanction by the UN - what does it mean?

Sanctions measures, under Article 41 of the Charter, encompass a broad range of enforcement options that do not involve the use of armed force. Sanctions can be imposed on any combination of states, groups or individuals. The range of sanctions has included comprehensive economic and trade sanctions and more targeted measures such as arms embargoes, travel bans, financial or diplomatic restrictions.

Security Council sanctions have taken a number of different forms, in pursuit of a variety of goals. The measures have ranged from comprehensive economic and trade sanctions to more targeted measures such as arms embargoes, travel bans, and financial or commodity restrictions. The Security Council has applied sanctions to support peaceful transitions, deter non-constitutional changes, constrain terrorism, protect human rights and promote non-proliferation.

Where do UN Sanctions exist?

Since 1966, the Security Council has established 30 sanctions regimes, in Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, the former Yugoslavia (2), Haiti, Iraq (2), Angola, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Eritrea, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Liberia (3), DRC, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan, Lebanon, DPRK, Iran, Libya (2), Guinea-Bissau, CAR, Yemen, South Sudan and Mali, as well as against ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaida and the Taliban.

How sanctions at the UN are organised

Today, there are 14 ongoing sanctions regimes which focus on supporting the political settlement of conflicts, nuclear non-proliferation, and counter-terrorism. Each regime is administered by a sanctions committee chaired by a non-permanent member of the Security Council. There are 10 monitoring groups, teams and panels that support the work of 11 of the 14 sanctions committees.

How UN sanctions are implemented

sanctions are usually first instituted by the Security Council and later adopted by the national governments in the form of law, for example, EU decisions and regulations.

For example, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2374 (2017) can impose sanctions measures regarding the situation in Mali. The options are

1. Travel Ban

All Member States shall take the necessary measures to prevent the entry into or transit through their territories of individuals designated by the Committee, provided that nothing [in this paragraph] shall oblige a State to refuse its own nationals entry into its territory. Set out in paragraph 2 of resolution 2374 (2017)

2. Assets Freeze

All Member States shall freeze without delay all funds, other financial assets and economic resources which are on their territories, which are owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the individuals or entities designated by the Committee, or by individuals or entities acting on their behalf or at their direction, or by entities owned or controlled by them, and decides further that all Member States shall ensure that any funds, financial assets or economic resources are prevented from being made available by their nationals or by any individuals or entities within their territories, directly or indirectly to or for the benefit of the individuals or entities designated by the Committee.

Set out in paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 of resolution

How do Members of the UN react?

Usually, within 30 days, governments begin to transpose these sanctions nationally.

How the EU reacts

Usually for the EU to implement Sanctions three documents are published:

1. A Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) amending the respective CFSP legislation. This then empowers the EU Commission to act.

2. The EU Commission can then announce changes to Annex I of the relevant regulation.

3. There is usually a notice outlining the rights of the persons affected.

So, for example, you could see this:


Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2020/9 of 7 January 2020 implementing Decision (CFSP) 2017/1775 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Mali



Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/8 of 7 January 2020 implementing Article 12(1) of Regulation (EU) 2017/1770 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Mali


Notice for the attention of persons subject to the restrictive measures provided for in Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1775, as implemented by Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2020/9 and Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1770, as implemented by Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/8 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Mali


Further information

7 views0 comments