Hon. Sue E. Eckert
Senior Fellow, Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University

Statement on behalf of the organizers of the High Level Review of UN Sanctions
Watson Institute and Compliance and Capacity International

Deputy Secretary-General, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to join with our distinguished speakers to welcome you to this briefing of Member States and civil society on the initiation of the process for a high level review of UN Sanctions.

On behalf of myself and the Watson Institute of International Studies at Brown University and my colleagues Enrico Carisch and Loraine Rickard-Martin of Compliance and Capacity International, we are pleased to assist in organizing this sanctions review.

The High Level Review is an initiative of sanctions practitioners with extensive experience in service of their Governments, the Secretariat, international organizations, or current and former sanctions monitors. The objective is to take stock of important changes that have taken place over time, in terms of the threats to international peace and security, the multiplying institutional mechanisms and instruments available to respond to these threats, and the diversity of sanctions measures applied with increasing frequency by the Security Council.

The purpose of this Review is to develop forward-looking recommendations to enhance the implementation and enforcement of UN targeted sanctions. Once the Security Council has acted under Chapter VII, it is important that all relevant parties – sanctions committees and expert panels, the Secretariat, related UN and external institutions and initiatives, Member States, and civil society (including the private sector) – do everything possible to make the sanctions measures effective.

The High Level Review builds on a rich history of civil society working with Member States, the Secretariat and UN agencies to refine the instrument of UN sanctions. In 1998-1999, the Government of Switzerland originated a series of initiatives with the Interlaken Process focused on targeted financial sanctions. It provided model language for Security Council resolutions and model legislation for implementation of financial sanctions at the national level. The following year, Germany sponsored the Bonn-Berlin Process recommending measures to enhance travel and aviation-related sanctions, as well as arms embargos. And from 2001-2003, the Government of Sweden led the Stockholm Process promoting more effective implementation and monitoring of UN targeted sanctions. These processes, along with the Greek Symposium in 2007, developed practical recommendations and helped to establish new procedures and measures that were adopted over time to promote the goal of more effective UN sanctions.

These sanctions reform initiatives, however, date back ten to fifteen years now, and much has changed in the intervening time to make today’s conflict resolution landscape more complex and complicated. As challenges to peace and security have evolved, so too has the sanctions tool. From the original focus on cross-border attacks and civil wars, the objectives of sanctions have expanded to include the protection of civilians and the prevention of human rights atrocities, thwarting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, stemming international terrorism, and limiting the financing of conflict through exploitation of natural resources or criminal activities.

To address these evolving threats, the Security Council has adapted sanctions over more than two decades. Comprehensive economic sanctions with negative consequences for the general population have been replaced by a combination of targeted measures aimed at those elements that are generating the threat to or breach of international peace and security. These targeted measures include: financial and travel sanctions designed to constrain the capacity of specific individuals and entities, such as insurgent groups and their leadership, from further pursuing destabilising activities; measures regulating or restricting the sale of certain commodities (e.g. diamonds, timber, etc.) to prevent their illicit use to fund conflict or violence; and, especially, measures restricting the supply of arms or military assistance into conflict zones in an effort to reduce the intensity of the conflict or prevent an accumulation of arms.

Among the new and innovative ways sanctions have been applied are the targeting of those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights (including inciting hatred, sexual and gender-based violence, children in conflict), instigating unconstitutional changes of government, insuring or obtaining financial services for transactions and goods that support proliferation, and the imposition of certification systems to distinguish legal from illegal extraction and trade of minerals.

As these sanctions responses have developed, the Security Council gradually has become dependent on a growing system of actors, institutions and mechanisms that play an increasingly important role in ensuring sanctions are effectively implemented. They include not only an ever-growing number of sanctions committees – 15 committees now supported by 11 expert panels – but also peacekeepers, UN mediators, regional organizations and their sanctions, humanitarian organizations and their monitors, arms control and nonproliferation organizations, international regulatory groups for finance and transport, the private sector, and many others. It is these sanctions-related organizations and entities, as well as Member States and civil society, whom this High Level Review seeks to engage.

Thank you for participating in this briefing. Additional information and resources related to the High Level Review will be available at the project website at HLR-UNSanctions.org.