The first working group has just reported to the United Nations high level review of UN sanctions, which has been conducted from June to October 2014 by 3 working groups who are assessing current sanctions practices and developing “practical, policy-oriented options to enhance sanctions implementation”. The review is sponsored by the governments of Australia, Finland, Germany, Greece, and Sweden, in partnership with the Watson Institute of Brown University and Compliance and Capacity International.
The first working group has just reported on its review, in a briefing (link here) by H.E. Gary Quinlan, its Chair. In summary, the group has reported (in brief summary) the following findings:
1. Alienation from the sanctions process. The UN needs to do better at making the case for its sanctions regimes, particularly amongst key stakeholder states. Despite sanctions Committees in particular becoming more open, routinely inviting affected and regional States to participate in Committee meetings and more often reporting to the Council in public meetings, “the fact remains there is a lingering sense of alienation from the process amongst the States with the greatest stake in the effectiveness of the sanctions. For sanctions to be effective, those States need to be partners in the process.”
2. Compliance. “At the technical level, the UN needs to make it easier to comply with sanctions. A sanctions regime often develops incrementally over a series of resolutions, but it’s rare for the Council to give the complete picture of the regime when it renews or amends the measures. This means States have to piece together what the technical obligations are for themselves…. Given that each of the 15 sanctions regimes are essentially made up of the same series of measures – usually an arms embargo, targeted financial sanctions and travel bans – the potential for inconsistency and thus confusion for national authorities is obvious. We need to improve our communication on the requirements of sanctions.”
3. Coordination. There is also a need to better coordinate sanctions measures with related international efforts and disarmament regimes, which could also minimise competing obligations on the part of States. For example, arms embargoes with existing arms control measures.
4. Procedure. The Committees’ decision-making processes were also a recurring theme. For those decisions that affect Member States, most particularly, to grant exemptions to arms embargoes, there was again a sense that Committees could be more responsive: not just making their decisions more quickly; but also engaging the affected States more. For decisions that affect individuals or entities, the focus was on procedural fairness and the Working Group considered ways to improve transparency and review within the existing framework.