Briefing Paper

Briefing Paper 169 (2015)   

Balancing targeted sanctions:
Effectiveness through a climate of legality

Published 5.2.2015

Katja Creutz
The Finnish Institute of International Affairs

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Targeted sanctions are political acts that infringe upon the enjoyment of fundamental rights by designated individuals and entities, especially the rights of defence and the right to an effective remedy. Increasing international attention has therefore been paid to the legal implications of targeted sanctions.

Targeted sanctions must meet basic standards of fair and clear procedures not only to guarantee the rights of individuals, but also in order to be a credible and effective foreign policy tool.

To date, concerns over fair treatment have been addressed in a fragmented and piecemeal way. Judicial review before European courts has provided an important incentive for change, especially for the creation of the office of the UN Ombudsperson.

A holistic approach should be developed, which not only emphasizes retrospective review of sanctions, but would also address concerns in the initial phase of their adoption. Increased attention should be paid to the use of confidential information and the right of designated individuals to receive information.

Efforts to strengthen legality aspects in the use of targeted sanctions must take account of the circumstances in which these measures are taken. Concerns for international peace and security, and especially for the authority of the Security Council, must be balanced against the protection of fundamental rights.