Concept Note

For more than two decades, the evolution of global threats to international peace and security has seen significant innovation in the design and application of UN sanctions. From the original focus on cross-border attacks, civil wars and terrorism, the rationale for sanctions has expanded to include the protection of civilians and prevention of human rights atrocities, thwarting the development of unconventional arms and their delivery systems, and financing conflict through exploitation of natural resources or criminal activities.

At the same time, the range of international organisations, instruments, and initiatives dealing with many of these same threats has multiplied. The growing frequency with which other crisis resolution tools are employed – mediation, referrals to international judicial processes, as well as the application of sanctions by entities other than the UN, including regional groups as well as individual countries– raises issues of coordination and complementarity.

As the focus of UN sanctions has narrowed to target specific goods or services, as well as specific individuals and entities, new issues have arisen, such as the need to ensure that UN sanctions are reconciled with the rule of law, in particular respect for due process and human rights; and the greater reliance on the private sector for complying with sanctions measures requires new modes of partnerships and strategies to assure effectiveness. These institutional dynamics reflect the need for the Security Council, the Secretariat and UN agencies, Member States and related international actors and bodies to adapt continually to the intricacies of new threats to international peace and security.

The sponsors, in partnership with the Watson Institute of Brown University and Compliance and Capacity International, are supporting a high level review of UN sanctions, to enhance their effectiveness and thereby better address threats to international peace and security through improved integration with today’s evolved network of internal and external institutions and related legal instruments.

The review will be conducted from June to October 2014 by three working groups, examining UN integration and coordination, the relationship between UN sanctions and external institutions and instruments, and emerging challenges. The working groups will include and consult with the Security Council and its expert groups, the Secretariat, other relevant UN/non-UN organizations, and Member States. The Working Groups will assess current sanctions practices and develop practical, policy-oriented options to enhance sanctions implementation.

UN integration and coordination on the implementation of UN sanctions
The first working group will address opportunities to improve sanctions integration and coordination among the UN entities supporting the Council’s sanctions function, including sanctions committees, expert groups, the Ombudsperson and the Secretariat. It will also explore the mutually reinforcing link between sanctions and other security-enhancing instruments of the Council, such as peacekeeping and special political missions, security sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, and how they can support the Council to implement and monitor sanctions, as well as Member States to implement and enforce sanctions.

UN sanctions and external institutions and instruments
The second working group will address the intersections between UN sanctions and other international instruments and institutions dealing with international security, such as international arms control and disarmament mechanisms, international financial and economic regulatory systems, and international criminal justice institutions. It will explore how to develop modalities for information sharing with, and effective cooperation between, these organisations and instruments and the Council to assist in sanctions implementation, as well as opportunities for capacity building and technical assistance on sanctions implementation for Member States.

UN sanctions, regional organizations, and emerging challenges
The third working group will identify opportunities to optimize UN sanctions as an effective tool in response to serious and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, enhance coordination with regional sanctions, and explore new applications to address evolving threats to international peace and security. It will explore best practices for regional and national sanctions implementation and enforcement, and capacity building requirements.