Sanctions of the UN Security Council


Under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the UN Security Council can take action to maintain or restore international peace and security. The application of sanctions is one of the possibilities the Council has in this respect. Sanctions measures, under Article 41 of the UN Charter, encompass a broad range of enforcement options that do not involve the use of armed force. The measures can range from economic and trade embargoes to more targeted measures against specific individuals, companies or entities, such as the freezing of funds and travel bans.

Sanctions of the UN Security Council can serve a variety of goals: support peaceful transitions, deter non-constitutional changes, constrain terrorism, protect human rights and promote non-proliferation. The sanctions are most effective when applied as part of a  comprehensive strategy encompassing peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

Currently, the UN Security Council has 14 active sanctions regimes which focus on supporting political processes in armed conflicts, nuclear non-proliferation and counter-terrorism. Sanctions regimes are enacted via a UN Security Council resolution. Each sanctions regime is administered by a sanctions committee that consists of all 15 members of the Security Council. These sanctions committees ensure the implementation of the sanctions and can decide by consensus to adopt targeted sanctions against specific individuals, enterprises or entities. Most sanctions committees are assisted by a group of experts or a monitoring group.

Traditionally, the sanctions committees are chaired by non-permanent members of the  Security Council. At present, Belgium chairs the sanctions committee for Somalia. More information on the current sanctions regimes established by the Security Council can be found here.

By the end of 2006, the Security Council established a ‘Focal Point for Delisting’, where individuals and entities featuring on a UN sanctions list can lodge a delisting request. Persons listed under the ISIL/Da’esh and Al-Qaida sanctions regime can also seek redress with the Ombudsperson of that specific sanctions regime. More information on the ‘Focal Point for Delisting’ can be found  here (PDF, 22.92 KB).