What are sanctions/ restrictive measures?
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.
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, 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 subject to EU measures (typically Council Decisions and Council Regulations) in order to ensure their consistent implementation throughout the 28 EU Member States.
What are the current UN sanctions/ restrictive measures in place?
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 nominate a number of “Competent Authorities” that are engaged with sanctions issues.
In Ireland’s case, there are three “Competent Authorities”: the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Jobs, 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.
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. In the context of sanctions, this involves engagement with the relevant bodies at the United Nations and the EU, and ensuring information is shared with the appropriate Government Departments and Agencies in Ireland.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials represent Ireland at EU working groups where sanctions measures are negotiated and this participation is underpinned by input as appropriate from other Departments.
Where can I find out more?
For further information on sanctions issues, comprehensive background material is available from the United Nations website, which provides an overview of sanctions policy and the specific work of the various sanctions committees.
Applications for authorisation
Where relevant and permitted under specific sanctions regimes, applications for authorisation can be made to the relevant Competent Authority.