Best Practices Guides

Development of Best Practices Guides for UN Sanctions Actors


The governments of Australia, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, in collaboration with other interested states, and assisted by Compliance and Capacity Skills (CCSI), are in the process of developing two Best Practices Guides for chairpersons and members of sanctions committees (Guide 1), as well as for UN sanctions monitoring experts and their coordinators (Guide 2).

Beyond the purposes of optimal preparation of newly elected chairpersons, E10 delegations and sanctions monitoring experts, the two Guides are expected to enable the fuller participation in the UN sanctions system of state delegations faced with capacity constraints, yet may be inordinately impacted by sanctions.

The Guides are expected to draw on the substantive body of work contained in the Compendium of the High Level Review of United Nations Sanctions (HLR), and the Assessment of the HLR, launched in November 2015 and August 2017, respectively.

The development of Guide 1 is already underway with consultations involving former, current and future chairpersons and delegations of elected member states of sanctions committees.

The development of Guide 2 will commence in January 2019.

Additional outreach events with sanctions stakeholders of the African Union in Addis Ababa, the European Union in Brussels, or the human rights community based in Geneva around the Human Rights Council are planned.

Furthermore, additional consultations are planned to provide deeper considerations to themes of particular challenges to the UN sanctions system, such as:

Gender, violence and UN sanctions;

Due process and UN sanctions;

Cooperation and compliance efforts by the private sector and UN sanctions;

Corruption and their influence on UN sanctions violations.

On 26 October the Permanent Representative of Sweden and the Netherlands, H.E. Mr. Olof Skoog and H.E. Mr. Karel J.G. van Oosterom, as well as H.E. Mr. Paul Rietjens, Legal Adviser and Director-General of Legal Affairs, Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of Belgium held a public event at UN Headquarters to introduce the joint project for the development of Best Practices Guides. Loraine Rickard-Martin from CCSI summarized the project development plan.


High Level Review (HLR) of UN Sanctions

A system-wide inquiry among UN member states to identify and promote more effective UN sanctions and synergetic effects among the disparate bodies, instruments and mechanisms that over the years have evolved from the mostly ad-hoc relationships mandated in Security Council sanctions resolutions.


The HLR (High Level Review of UN Sanctions), sponsored by the Governments of Australia, Finland, Germany, Greece, and Sweden, and organized by CCSI and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs (Brown University) is a collective effort of many UN Member States, representatives of the Secretariat, UN agencies and organizations, as well as external stakeholders of the UN sanctions system. Former UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson inaugurated the HLR in May 2014.


Assessment of the HLR

The Assessment served to further focus the 150 recommendations contained in the HLR Compendium in order to arrive at 10 concise and actionable measures.


The Assessment was sponsored by the government of Australia and organized by CCSI as a multi-state consultation process in Fall 2016. The resulting Assessment Report was released in August 2017. It’s main themes are:

More effective cooperation and transparency among all sanctions stakeholders

1. Enhancing external and internal cooperation and transparency of the United Nations sanctions system (sanctions committee chairs and expert groups)
2. Sanctions-affected states and related regional organizations and institutions
3. Outreach to the private sector

More accurate and collaborative sanctions implementation:
1. Harmonization of sanctions definitions and terms and related texts and procedures
2. Independence and working conditions of the Ombudsperson
3. Enhancing overall due process procedures

New issues :
1. Derisking
2. Integrating Chapter VI considerations into United Nations sanctions procedures
3. Field security for expert groups


Sanctions and Women

CCSI is spearheading an initiative for greater focus on gender aspects in the UN sanctions system


The UN sanctions system increasingly includes prohibitions against violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The impact of such violations is greatest on women and girls, particularly on mothers who have the added responsibility to protect their children-- girls and boys.

Despite that 50 percent of the world’s population are potentially threatened by sexual and gender-based violence, there has been little if any concomitant increase in the participation of women as sanctions actors, i.e., in policy, practice, or decision-making roles

CCSI is spearheading an initiative for greater focus on gender aspects in the UN sanctions system. Three topics are proposed as high priorities for sanctions policy makers whenever new sanctions resolutions are being drafted:

- What are threats to the peace and security of women and girls?

- How can monitoring practices, the training, recruitment, and working conditions, as well as the composition and competence of expert groups and sanctions committees be improved along with gender-specific sanctions language?

- What sustainable measures exist or should be promoted by sanctions policy-makers to provide sustained protection to women and girls in conflict regions?


Due Process

Guaranteeing the application of due process throughout UN sanctions processes should be a self-evident responsibility of the Security Council.


While the call for fair and clear procedures in UN sanctions has been raised since the 1990’s, none of the due process improvements have been implemented across the board. The creation of the Office of the Ombudsperson applies only to the ISIL (Daesh) / Al Qaeda sanctions, and the mandate of the Focal Point for De-listing is far too limited to ensure meaningful due process.

CCSI is spearheading an effort to analyze opportunities and implementation mechanisms for a system-wide application of due process. The following table summarizes concepts and possible solutions:

Situation  Responsible sanctions actors  Due process requirements 
Start of mandate  Expert Group;  Sanctions Committee  Develop and adopt evidentiary standards, working methods for collection and handling of evidentiary material, as well as reporting standards.  
Decision to initiate a specific monitoring / investigation  Expert Group,  Sanctions Committee  Credible prima facie information must meet reasonable standards that justify Experts' inquiries and information requests;  Consider all exculpatory information. 
Monitoring or investigations of specific situations  Expert Group,  Sanctions Committee  Verify prevalence of evidence;   Review exculpatory information;  Ensure right of reply is provided to target, while taking all precautions to preserve the effectiveness of an eventual asset freeze; and respecting any member States' national security prerogatives;   Ensure evidence for culpability meets expert groups' methodology standards. 
Reporting of findings  Expert Group    Report all pertinent evidence including exculpatory information;   Report substance of replies by target;   Describe conditions under which the right of reply was granted. 
Consideration of Expert Group reporting and evidence in confidential annexes  Sanctions Committee  Verify that presented evidence was collected in accordance with UN and Experts' own methodologies and standards; Verify authenticity of reported evidence;   Verify that right of reply was granted and exercised;   Verify that efforts were undertaken to seek and report exculpatory information. 
Post-Designation  Sanctions Committee  Ensure that target is informed about designation;   Ensure that target is advised about opportunity to communicate new information to the Expert Group;   Ensure that target is aware of Focal Point and Ombudsperson;  Ensure periodic review of designation criteria.   
Petitions to Focal Point / Ombudsperson  Sanctions Committee  Ensure that relevant Expert Group is consulted; Communicate decisions and their reasons to target;   
Granting of exemption  Sanctions Committee  Ensure that relevant member states inform law enforcement organizations and related organizations about specific exemptions. 
Post-designation monitoring  Sanctions Committee,  Expert Group  Maintain continual monitoring of designee to ensure that reasons and criteria for designation remain valid.  
Delisting  Sanctions Committee  Ensure that delisting decision is communicated to all relevant Member States;   Ensure that all relevant UN documents reflect the delisting.