Research

 

Sanctions Typology and Crime

Almost all sanctions violations are enabled by violations of other national and international laws and regulations.

 

Empirical evidence shared by many sanctions investigators indicates that sanctions violations are concomitant with multiple acts of corruption, theft, fake passports, fraudulent banking or shipping documents or false end-use certificates, abuses of diplomatic privilege, or money laundering.

CCSI is currently researching sanctions typologies and the most commonly observed as enabling criminal actions.

 

50 Years of UN Sanctions

The rapid proliferation of information technologies turns digital tools into weapons with potentially far more virulent implications than was the case at the dawn of the targeted sanctions era.

 

Marking the 50th anniversary of UN sanctions, the CCSI book, The Evolution of UN Sanctions: From a Tool of Warfare to a Tool of Peace, Security and Human Rights, examines the rise of sanctions as a versatile and frequently used tool to confront the challenges of armed conflicts, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Thanks to the political pressure of the Non Aligned Movement, the first UN sanctions were adopted on 16 December 1966. They targeted the racist and secessionist regime of Ian Smith in Southern Rhodesia. Similarly, the effectiveness and fairness of the second sanctions belatedly imposed against the apartheid regime of South Africa was undermined by discord among the permanent five member states of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States).

The Evolution of UN Sanctions: From a Tool of Warfare to a Tool of Peace, Security and Human Rights analyzes how big power policies are the cause of three major weaknesses of the UN sanctions system:

  • Big power politics assert their unilateral interests too often to the detriment of UN sanctions by. By imposing their unilateral coercive policies that often mimic UN sanctions, they tend to undermine political will for implementing UN sanctions.  
  • Too often Article 41 of the UN Charter that authorizes the imposition of sanctions measures is applied too quickly in conjunction with Article 42 that authorizes the use of force if sanctions measures do not produce the desired outcome. It is no wonder a widespread impression exists that sanctions are a prelude to military action. 
  • The result of the above mentioned two concerns is that too many UN sanctions end up undermining the essential mandate of the UN – the protection of human welfare. 
 

The book was released during an event at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) of Columbia University, New York. Elisabeth Lindenmayer, the school’s Director of the International Organizations and United Nations Studies Specialization hosted and moderated the event. Lipika Majumdar Roy Choudhury, the Coordinator of the UN sanctions monitoring panel on Libya, and Barbara Crossette, former New York Times correspondent, and consulting editor for Passblue and the Nation’s UN correspondent commented on the book, which was presented by two of the authors, Enrico Carisch and Loraine Rickard-Martin.

Section II analyzes all thirty UN sanctions regimes adopted over the past fifty years. These narratives explore the contemporaneous political and security context that led to the introduction of specific sanctions measures and enforcement efforts, often spearheaded for good or ill by the permanent five members of the Security Council.

Finally, Section III offers a qualitative analysis of the UN sanctions system to identify possible areas for improvements to the current Security Council structure dominated by the five veto-wielding victors of World War II.

 

Digital Technologies and UN Sanctions

The rapid proliferation of information technologies turns digital tools into weapons with potentially far more virulent implications than was the case at the dawn of the targeted sanctions era.

 

Although UN expert reports delivered evidence that the implementation of UN sanctions was already negatively impacted as early as during the Angola sanctions in 1998, the recent advancements of digital technologies has added incalculable risks to international peace and security. Advanced encryption and distributed ledger technology (blockchain technology) allow negative actors to perpetrate an exotic list of attacks – with a very high probability of complete impunity.

To continuously assess how the Security Council reacts to these evolving digital threats, CCSI maintains a list of all major forms of reported or projected digital and information technology risks and whether sanctions resolutions already respond to any of the listed digital threats, or which threats are left unattended.


Application of UN Sanctions against Threats Perpetrated with Digital Technologies   
Type of attack    UN sanctions  response adopted 
Phishing or hacking of personal and corporate website causing minor damage or theft  None 
Phishing or hacking of personal and corporate website causing minor  damage or theft  None 
Temporary denial of service attack against corporate digital assets  None 
Dissemination of instructional material to assist activities that are under sanctions  Yes 
Dissemination of hate-speech and incitement to violence  Yes 
Fundraising or acquisition of arms and other embargoed items  Yes 
Command and control function to further activities against which sanctions have been imposed  Yes 
Hacking digital assets to disseminate slander, disinformation, or  embarrassing information  None 
Hacking of digital assets in order to manipulate or steal data from private sector website.  None 
Hacking of state government’s digital assets in order to manipulate or steal data or spy on opponents’ networks  None 
Temporary disruption of digital assets of corporate or state government infrastructures, or signal intelligence attacks with Trojans, viruses, or other malicious code  None 
Attack on digital assets causing extensive damage to national infrastructures or state property, resulting in temporary interruption of life-supporting services  None 
Cyber attacks on military forces’ virtual or physical assets  None 
Cyber attack on military and civilian installations indiscriminately targeting civilians  None 
Cyber attack triggering WMD weapons, indiscriminately targeting civilians  None 
Deliberate use of cyber warfare means to maximize civilian casualties  None 
  CCSI further analyzes how national or multilateral legal responses could amplify UN sanctions against attacks that involve the most dangerous technological advances, advanced encryption or blockchain technologies.   
Advanced digital attacks and response options, including with UN sanctions 
Type of attack  Perpetrators  Advanced Technologies as Risk Multipliers  Potential counter-action 
  Encryption    Blockchain 
Phishing or hacking of personal and corporate website causing minor damage or theft  Non-government  Yes  No  Civil penalty, fines, reprimands or criminal prosecution, sanctions  
Government  Yes  No  International civil and criminal court proceedings, fines, sanctions 
Temporary denial of service attack against corporate digital assets  Non-government  Yes  No  Criminal prosecution, international extradition request, sanctions 
Government  Yes  No  International civil and criminal court proceedings, fines, covert retaliation, sanctions 
Hacking digital assets to disseminate slander, disinformation or embarrassing information  Non-government  Yes  No  Criminal prosecution, international extradition request, sanctions 
Government  Yes  No  International civil and criminal court proceedings, fines, covert retaliatory strike, sanctions 
Hacking of digital assets in order to manipulate or steal data from private sector website  Non-government  Yes  No  Criminal prosecution, international extradition request, sanctions 
Government  Yes  No  International civil and criminal court proceedings, fines, covert retaliatory strike, sanctions 
Hacking of state government's digital assets in order to manipulate or steal data or spy on opponents networks   Non-government    No  Criminal prosecution and international extradition request for perpetrators, covert counter-attack, sanctions 
Government  Yes  No  Criminal prosecution, expelling diplomats, interruption of diplomatic relations, covert retaliatory strike, sanctions 
Temporary disruption of digital assets of corporate or state government infrastructures, or signal intelligence attacks with Trojans, viruses or other malicious code  Non-government  Yes  Yes  Criminal prosecution and international extradition request for perpetrators, covert counter-attack, sanctions 
Government  Yes  Yes  Interruption of diplomatic relations, counter-espionage and covert retaliatory strike, sanctions 
Attack on digital assets causing extensive damage to national infrastructures or state property, resulting in temporary interruptions of life-supporting services   Non-government  Yes  Yes  Criminal prosecution and international extradition request for perpetrators, covert counter-attack, sanctions 
Government  Yes  Yes  Termination of diplomatic relations, initiation of economic warfare, termination of diplomatic relations, covert counter-strikes, military force, sanctions 
Cyber attacks on military forces' virtual or physical assets   Non-government  Yes  Yes  Proportionate military and cyber counter strikes, covert counter-strikes, sanctions  
Government  Yes  Yes  Proportionate military and cyber counter strikes, covert counter-strikes, sanctions 
Cyber attack on military and civilian installations indiscriminately targeting civilians   Non-government  Yes    Use of military force 
Government  Yes  Yes  Declaration of war and military force 
Cyber attack triggering WMD weapons, indiscriminately targeting civilians perpetrated   Non-government  Yes  Yes  Use of military force  
Government  Yes  Yes  Declaration of war and retaliatory strikes with WMD and other use of military force 
 

Natural Resources

Almost every conflict is either triggered by contests over the control of commodities or caused by scarcity of natural resources. UN sanctions are a tool to prevent or resolve commodity contests.

 

Currently, there are two distinct approaches through which sanctions are applied against abuses of natural resources:

– Outright trade bans on select raw or processed materials such as hydrocarbons, charcoal, wildlife or wildlife products, as in the cases of Libya, Somalia or the DPRK;

– Connecting the failure to apply UN due diligence for all actors engaged in the trade of certain minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan with the possibility of being designated for assets freezes or travel bans.

CCSI is engaged with partners in field research and other studies, as well as organizing workshops and colloquia for relevant stakeholders. CCSI also published extensively on conflict and commodities:

FES-CCSI-publication “Sanctions and the Effort to Globalize Natural Resources Governance“

Congo’s Golden Web – The people, companies and countries that profit from the illegal trade in Congolese gold; a comprehensive update based on new field research about the economic actors involved in the Congo’s gold trade

“From Conflict Gold to Criminal Gold “- Report on the security implications of artisanal gold mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo: English language version or La version français

“The High Cost of Congolese Gold” – Report on the social implications of artisanal gold exploitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo: English language version or La version français

Dominance as inventor, designer, marketer and consumer is gradually shifting from the global North to the rising economies of the South. As a vestige of earlier times, Western nations continue to attempt to maintain some control over commerce in commodities through the application of socially responsible and humanitarian corporate practices. As long as the allocation of investments is mostly managed through Western equity and capital markets, such schemes may prevent commodity trade from being influenced by truly global forces.

over commerce in commodities through the application of socially responsible and humanitarian corporate practices. As long as the allocation of investments is mostly managed through Western equity and capital markets, such schemes may prevent commodity trade from being influenced by truly global forces.

Sanctions could serve as a tool for actualizing globalized governance. There are currently two distinct approaches:

– Outright trade bans on select raw or processed materials such as hydrocarbons, charcoal, wildlife or wildlife products, as in the cases of Libya, Somalia or the DRC;

– Imposition of due diligence obligations in the trade of certain minerals as currently in force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and contemplated in the Central African Republic,  Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, or Côte d’Ivoire.

CCSI has published studies, on its own and in collaboration with other organizations. In partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and others; CCSI has also organized workshops and colloquia among relevant stakeholders.