UN Targeted Sanctions, Legal Safeguards and the European Convention on Human Rights

In: Nordic Journal of International Law


The introduction of Security Council targeted financial and travel sanctions against individuals involves a qualitative change in Security Council sanctions policy, which has previously been directed against governmental entities. Targeted sanctions can be a useful weapon in the international community's attempts to pressurize repressive regimes into accepting change. However, there is a problem in using against individuals, a powerful international law mechanism designed for pressurizing states. Individuals' rights under domestic and international law can be severely affected by such sanctions. The blacklists created under Resolutions 1333 and 1390 cause particular problems, as these are quasi-criminal in nature and in practice entail an allegation that the targeted persons are terrorists or terrorist associates. However, there is no international legal mechanism for checking or reviewing the accuracy of the information forming the basis of a sanctions committee blacklisting or the necessity for, and proportionality of, measures adopted. The implementation against non-governmental or quasi-governmental entities of targeted Security Council sanctions in European states is almost certainly contrary to European human rights norms, in particular, the right of access to court under Article 6 ECHR. There is thus a conflict between obligations under the United Nations Charter (UNC) on the one hand and the ECHR (and for EU states, EC law) on the other. Mechanisms can, however, be created which provide a broadly similar level of protection to that provided by Article 6 ECHR while maintaining whatever effectiveness targeted sanctions possess, so there is no logical incompatibility between obligations under the ECHR and Security Council sanctions.

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