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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

22 February 2017, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by Mr. Eric Chaboureau, First Counsellor, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization, Briefing by the Secretary-General / SC Subsidiary Organs Branch on the issues covered by the document contained in the annex to General Assembly resolution 64/115 of 16 December 2009 entitled Introduction and implementation of sanctions imposed by the United Nations

Mr./Madam Chair,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this statement.

At the outset, we would like to thank the Secretariat (Mr. Kelvin Ong and his team) for this comprehensive and very informative briefing on the issues covered by the document contained in the annex to General Assembly resolution 64/115 of 16 December 2009 entitled “Introduction and implementation of sanctions imposed by the United Nations“. As you well know, last year, we were supportive to have this briefing annually, in the hope that this exchange will foster positive dialogue and better understanding of the need and usefulness of the instrument of sanctions, the recent improvements and developments related to it, as well as the efforts of the Secretariat to support Member States in implementing current sanctions regimes.

For the European Union and its Member States, sanctions remain an important instrument, under the Charter, for the maintenance and restoration of international peace and security. For many years the UN Security Council has adopted targeted rather than comprehensive sanctions. The evidence continues to demonstrate that sanctions can be and are instituted in a targeted way to increase their efficiency and attain the agreed objectives while minimising their impact upon the well-being of the civilian population as well as upon third parties.

We welcomed in several instances the fact that the Security Council has taken significant steps to further reinforce fair and clear procedures for UN sanctions, in particular in the 1267/2253 Al-Qaida and Da’esh sanctions regime. We commend the Ombudsperson’s work and reiterate our support to her unwavering efforts. We seize this opportunity to reiterate our call upon all Member States to extend full cooperation with the Office of the Ombudsperson in each and every case.

We also note that over recent years, the sanctions committees have organized meetings and open briefings to provide fora to hear from Member States and their concerns and challenges. This approach is welcomed also as it increases transparency and outreach efforts regarding the work of the Committees. We would like to commend in this respect Italy as Chair of the 1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee for holding such briefing last week. We commend also the UNSC Member States for their initiatives over the past three years to hold open thematic debates and briefings related to sanctions, in particular to address the terrorism threat posed by Da’esh. We encourage and support such actions to the benefit of the whole UN membership.

One important trend of 2016 was once more the confirmation that sanctions regimes are not static nor permanent; on the contrary, and in line with their very aim, sanctions regimes are constantly shaped and adjusted to the political situation on the ground. As Mr. Ong has rightly pointed out, last year, the UNSC has progressively adjusted or expanded sanctions regimes such as against Al-Qaida and Da’esh, DPRK and Central African Republic while softening others or even lifting them completely in the case of sanctions against Cote d’Ivoire, Iran and Liberia. This is a clear prove that the UNSC is responsible and credible in its sanctions policies. In that respect, we commend the SG Report on Liberia of 29 September 2014 (S/2014/707) which captures the entire life-cycle of that sanction regime and we would very much encourage the SC to mandate the SG to do so with respect to other sanctions regimes as it is very helpful for MS and an organisation as the EU in particular in terms of lessons learned. We do believe that all steps that contribute to a better transparency and a better information of countries on the UN assistance to Governments contribute to make this chapter VII tool even more efficient

All these endeavours were only possible due to continuous and valuable work of the Sanctions Committees, their support bodies such as the Office of the Ombudsperson, mandated monitoring teams or panels of experts, as well as the UN Secretariat. We commend their efforts to assess developments and trends of the threat and to recommend follow-up measures to the Sanctions Committees and the UNSC. We would like to thank you, Mr. Ong, for sharing with us today these maybe less visible activities, in particular the Secretariat’s efforts in support of the Sanctions Committees and the UN system

All these developments are producing tangible results only when the sanctions are fully and scrupulously implemented by the UN Member States be it at regional or national level. The domestication and efficient implementation of the UN sanctions are unquestionable obligation of the UN Member States, directly derived from the Charter of the United Nations. The practice shows that the implementation does not come without challenges, mostly related to capacity or technical aspects. Nevertheless, these challenges should not be used as a shield to hide lack of political will to respect UN sanctions.

The EU and its Member States are committed to fully enact and respect the UN Security Council resolutions on sanctions. We have taken our duty seriously and we have in place a sophisticated system to ensure quick and swift implementation of the UN sanctions adopted by the Security Council. Nevertheless, the complexities and technicalities of the UN sanctions require often clarification and guidance from the UN. Such clarification and guidance are also necessary in view of the increased judicial scrutiny domestic implementing measures are under within the Union legal order. We are pleased that the UN Sanctions Committees have been very responsive throughout the years to the requests for clarification or exemptions. We noted the improved quality and swiftness of the correspondence with the Sanctions Committees. We also very much welcome the fact that the UN is currently implementing the enhanced data model for the UN Da’esh and Al-Qaida sanctions list, a step that will help making sanctions as easy to implement as possible, including for financial institutions and economic operators.

As you know, the EU has a robust judicial system that allows legal remedies for the individuals or entities affected by restrictive measures (sanctions). The European Court of Justice has developed a substantive case law related to restrictive measures, including those imposed by the UN Security Council. In one of its recent cases, Mohammed Al-Ghabra v. European Commission (Judgment of the General Court, case T-248/13, 13 December 2016), the EU General Court considers the cooperation between the European Commission and the UN Sanctions Committee as a decisive element of the legality of the EU implementing process. The judgement equally contains an interesting pronouncement with respect to the role of the UN Ombudsperson as a legal remedy that was available to the applicant.

On the external dimension, we continue to engage with partners throughout the world in fostering capacity building for sanctions implementation and/or post-sanctions sustainability in the affected countries. The Kimberley Process is one such example of an international forum that has enabled the EU to engage with partner countries, such as Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia on post-sanctions sustainability issues.

I thank you, Mr. /Madam Chair.

* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

  • Ref: EUUN17-011EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum:
  • Date: 22/02/2017

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