Sanctions are created by a variety of international, regional and state bodies.
The creation of sanctions by multiple bodies within the international system means that there can be various layers of sanctions which may need to be considered in any one scenario.
UN sanctions derive from UN Security Council Resolutions which require nation states to implement local legislation to comply with the Resolutions. It is the responsibility of states to comply with UNSC Resolutions. They do not directly bind individuals or companies.
Given the UN has limited ability to compel states to comply with sanctions introduced through UNSC Resolutions, some nation states do not always implement (in whole or in part) the relevant UNSC1 Resolutions.
EU sanctions may be put in place in order to implement UNSC Resolutions, although will sometimes be much stricter and include additional measures to the minimum requirements set out in the UNSC Resolutions (e.g. sanctions against Iran go further than UN sanctions).
In addition to sanctions which are linked to UNSC Resolutions, the EU also implements sanctions autonomously pursuant to its own independent foreign policy objectives (e.g. sanctions against Russia in response to developments in Ukraine).
The EU Council imposes EU sanctions through Council decisions which must be agreed unanimously. Once agreed, additional legislation is generally required to give full legal effect to the sanctions.
Certain sanctions, such as arms embargoes and travel bans, are implemented individually by EU member states through their own national legislation.
Other sanctions, including non-military trade and investment, financing and technical assistance relating to military items and asset freezes, are implemented by EU Regulations which are directly effective in individual EU member states. This means that EU Regulations do not need to be transposed into local law in EU member states in order to be binding upon companies and individuals within the EU. However, aspects such as enforcement of the offences and penalties for breach created by the EU Regulations are delegated to the relevant authorities in each EU member state and therefore, member states also introduce their own local legislation to supplement the EU Regulations.
The UK generally implements sanctions pursuant to UN and EU sanctions, and also OSCE 2arms embargoes (for example, Azerbaijan).
However, the UK Parliament may implement its own sanctions autonomously. By way of example, in 2011 the UK implemented the Financial Restrictions (Iran) Order 2011 which went further than EU sanctions by prohibiting UK financial institutions from dealing with Iranian banks except under licence (although EU sanctions were subsequently brought into line with this UK legislation).
The UK also generally extends the application of sanctions to overseas territories such as the British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands via Overseas Territories Orders although the scope of these may not precisely mirror the UK regulations.
US sanctions programs represent the implementation of multiple legal authorities, including presidential orders, statutes, and regulations. The core of the country-based sanctions programs are regulations promulgated by the Secretary of the Treasury pursuant to executive orders issued by the President under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 and the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1971. In addition, there are various sanctions measures enacted by other statutes that are often implemented by executive order and/or regulation. Many US sanctions are also based on United Nations and other international mandates.
Canada has sanctions in place against countries as well as against specific individuals, entities, and terrorist organizations. United Nations Security Council sanctions against specific destinations or individuals are set out in orders made under Canada’s United Nations Act. Other sanctions are enacted pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act. Lists of designated persons, including individuals and corporate entities, can be frequently updated depending on current events. The Area Control List also lists countries for which it is mandatory to obtain a permit prior to exporting any goods to those countries.
Australia maintains two distinct sanctions regimes.
The first mirrors the nature and scope of certain sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. As a result, there can be degree of overlap between some Australian sanctions and those imposed by other UN Security Council member nations.
However, Australia also maintains an autonomous sanctions regime – one that derives its political impetus from Australia’s own foreign policy. Under the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2010, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has the power to enact regulations that contain specific sanction measures in relation to a given individual, body corporate or entity. Before imposing a specific sanction measure, the Minister must be satisfied that the measure facilitates the conduct of Australia’s relations with other countries, entities or persons outside Australia.
Specific sanction regimes are implemented and amended by delegated legislation enacted under powers conferred by an enabling Act of Parliament.