Sanctions – also known, and referred, to as "restrictive measures" – are legally binding measures that can be taken against individuals, entities or countries. Sanctions are adopted by the United Nations Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and through decisions taken at European Union level.
The objective in adopting sanctions is to bring about a change in policy and/or behaviour by the target of the restrictive measures. As such, sanctions are an important foreign policy tool, which are part of an integrated and comprehensive strategic approach to the pursuit of foreign policy objectives.
Sanctions should be targeted, and therefore aim to minimise the consequences for those not responsible for the actions that have triggered the imposition sanctions, such as, for example, humanitarian agencies and the local civilian population. The measures in force can cover a wide variety of elements such as financial services (e.g. asset freezes), immigration (e.g. visa and travel bans) and trade (e.g. export restrictions).
Sanctions are reviewed at regular intervals to ensure that the measures in force are aligned with developments. As such, measures can be strengthened in response to a worsening situation, or relaxed if there is an improvement in circumstances. A key principle of sanctions is that they must respect fundamental human rights and fundamental freedoms, with a particular emphasis on the right to due process.
Sanctions measures adopted by the United Nations are binding on all United Nations Member States. They are typically implemented through EU measures (typically Council Decisions and Council Regulations) in order to ensure their consistent implementation throughout the 28 EU Member States. There may, however, be related aspects of UN sanctions resolutions that fall within the competence of the Member States and so are not addressed at EU level.
In addition to implementing UN sanctions, the EU also adopts sanctions measures of its own, as a tool of its Common Foreign and Security Policy (Article 215 TFEU), as well as in respect of "preventing and combating terrorism and related activities" (Article 75 TFEU). These are known as "autonomous" EU sanctions.
EU Regulations have what is termed "direct effect" in Irish law, meaning that they apply and must be complied with in the same way as Irish legislation. Penalties for the breach of such EU Regulations, however, are specifically provided for through the enactment of statutory instruments under the European Communities Act 1972 (as amended), as well as certain statutory instruments under the Financial Transfers Act 1992 and the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005.
What are the current sanctions/ restrictive measures in place?
The consolidated list of EU sanctions is updated on a regular basis and can be found at the following link: https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/8442/consolidated-list-sanctions_en Definitive up-to-date guidance on EU sanctions is available from the Official Journal of the European Union database which is fully searchable.
Additional useful information on EU sanctions, including on the EU implementation of UN Sanctions, can be found at: www.sanctionsmap.eu
The UN publishes a consolidated list which includes all individuals and entities subject to sanctions measures imposed by the UN Security Council. The information may be downloaded in a number of searchable formats (PDFs, EXCEL) and comprehensive instructions and guidance for users is provided.
In Ireland, penalties for breaches of sanctions are provided for by Statutory Instrument (SIs). A comprehensive list of SIs may be found in the, fully searchable, Irish Statute Book
Who are the Competent Authorities for sanctions/ restrictive measures in Ireland?
Within the EU each Member State is required to designate their "Competent Authorities" that are engaged with sanctions issues. In Ireland's case, there are three such "Competent Authorities": the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, and the Central Bank of Ireland. Given the multi-sectoral nature of sanctions measures however a wide range of Government stakeholders are engaged on sanctions related issues.
The contact details for the Irish Competent Authorities are as follows:
Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade see here
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: firstname.lastname@example.org
Central Bank of Ireland: email@example.com
What is the role of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as a Competent Authority?
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is responsible for foreign policy and representing Ireland internationally, and holds primary responsibility for communicating with the EU, the UN and other states in respect of implementation of international restrictive measures in Ireland. DFAT also communicates relevant information from these partners to the appropriate Government Departments and Agencies in Ireland. In addition to the above, DFAT officials represent Ireland at EU working groups where sanctions measures are formulated and negotiated (liaising with other Departments, as appropriate); services other EU for a on restrictive measures; and communicates, where necessary, with other individuals and entities in Ireland who may be subject to restrictive measures, including in relation to applications for exemptions.
Where can I find out more?
For further information on sanctions issues, comprehensive background material is available as follows:
General Background: UN Sanctions
The United Nations website provides an overview of sanctions policy and the specific work of the various sanctions committees.
General Background: EU Sanctions
The website of the European External Action Service (EEAS) has a dedicated sanctions page with useful background information on EU sanctions, including a user-friendly "Frequently Asked Questions" document.
Guidance on implementation of EU Sanctions
Three core documents provide background and guidance on the implementation of EU Sanctions:
1. Guidelines on implementation and evaluation of restrictive measures in the framework of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (published 2012).
2. Supplementary guidance on new elements on the notions of ownership and control and the making available of funds or economic resources (published 2013).
3. EU Best Practices for the effective implementation of restrictive measures (updated 2015).
Alternatively queries may be directed to the relevant Competent Authority as per the contact details provided above