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An EU human rights sanctions regime?

02-04-2019

The EU already has multiple sanctions in place targeting individuals responsible for gross human rights abuses in specific countries. There are growing calls for a more global approach targeting violations from all over the world, following the example of the US 2016 Global Magnitsky Act. In December 2018, the Dutch government floated the idea, but it is not yet clear whether it has a good chance of being adopted at EU level.

The EU already has multiple sanctions in place targeting individuals responsible for gross human rights abuses in specific countries. There are growing calls for a more global approach targeting violations from all over the world, following the example of the US 2016 Global Magnitsky Act. In December 2018, the Dutch government floated the idea, but it is not yet clear whether it has a good chance of being adopted at EU level.

Venezuela: An unexpected turn of events

07-02-2019

The election of Juan Guaidó as president of the National Assembly and his subsequent self-proclamation as interim President of Venezuela has brought an unexpected turn to political events in the country and revived hopes for change both at home and abroad. Not only has Guaidó rallied massive popular support among Venezuelans, he has also obtained official recognition from the USA and most countries in the region. The European Parliament and 19 EU Member States have also recognised Guaidó as the legitimate ...

The election of Juan Guaidó as president of the National Assembly and his subsequent self-proclamation as interim President of Venezuela has brought an unexpected turn to political events in the country and revived hopes for change both at home and abroad. Not only has Guaidó rallied massive popular support among Venezuelans, he has also obtained official recognition from the USA and most countries in the region. The European Parliament and 19 EU Member States have also recognised Guaidó as the legitimate interim President.

Russia [What Think Tanks are thinking]

21-09-2018

In September, Russia held its largest military exercise since 1981, the height of the Cold War, deploying 300 000 troops and also inviting Chinese forces to participate. The event highlighted Russia’s growing assertiveness in security and foreign policy, following its annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Syria. The policies of President Vladimir Putin, who was re-elected earlier this year, pose a dilemma for the European Union and the United States, with some observers accusing him of ...

In September, Russia held its largest military exercise since 1981, the height of the Cold War, deploying 300 000 troops and also inviting Chinese forces to participate. The event highlighted Russia’s growing assertiveness in security and foreign policy, following its annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Syria. The policies of President Vladimir Putin, who was re-elected earlier this year, pose a dilemma for the European Union and the United States, with some observers accusing him of trying to sabotage Western liberal democracy and others saying that he wants to regain the position of global player that the Soviet Union once occupied. This note offers links to commentaries and studies by major international think tanks, which discuss Russia's policies and how to respond to them. More reports on the topic can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are Thinking', published in March 2018. Some more papers on US-Russian relations are available in another edition from the series published in August 2018.

Updating the Blocking Regulation: The EU's answer to US extraterritorial sanctions

07-06-2018

On 8 May 2018, President Trump announced the unilateral US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the landmark nuclear agreement signed by Iran and the E3/EU+3 – France, Germany, the UK and the EU plus China, Russia and the USA – in 2015. He also announced that the US would re-impose sanctions on Iran that had been lifted as part of the implementation of the JCPOA. These sanctions have extraterritorial effect, essentially making it illegal for EU companies and financial institutions ...

On 8 May 2018, President Trump announced the unilateral US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the landmark nuclear agreement signed by Iran and the E3/EU+3 – France, Germany, the UK and the EU plus China, Russia and the USA – in 2015. He also announced that the US would re-impose sanctions on Iran that had been lifted as part of the implementation of the JCPOA. These sanctions have extraterritorial effect, essentially making it illegal for EU companies and financial institutions to engage in a wide range of economic and commercial activities with Iran. Companies that disregard the US secondary sanctions face major fines and/or criminal charges in the US, or even exclusion from the US market. US sanctions will be reinstated after a 90- or 180-day wind-down period, to allow companies to make the necessary arrangements. Following the signing of the JCPOA in 2015, European companies have entered into important commercial and investment agreements with Iranian counterparts, worth billions of euros. Many of these companies also have important commercial ties with the US. Faced with the prospect of penalties in the US, several EU companies have already announced that they are ending their dealings with Iran, unless a way can be found to exempt or shield them from US secondary sanctions. In response, the Commission adopted a delegated act on 6 June 2018 to update the annex to the 'Blocking Regulation', which was adopted in 1996 to protect EU businesses against the effects of the extraterritorial application of legislation adopted by a third country. The Blocking Regulation forbids EU persons from complying with extraterritorial sanctions, allows companies to recover damages arising from such sanctions, and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court judgment based on them. The effectiveness of the regulation as a mechanism to offset US sanctions has been questioned, however its adoption sends an important political message. Parliament now has two months to object to the delegated act, but may signal earlier that it will not do so, thus allowing the measure to come into force earlier than the end of the two-month period.

US withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal [What Think Tanks are thinking]

18-05-2018

President Donald Trump announced on 8 May that the United States was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement, ignoring calls from other signatories to preserve the 2015 deal, which lifted sanctions on Teheran in return for measures scaling back its nuclear ambitions. The decision paves the way for reinstating US sanctions against Iran, which will also affect non-US companies doing business with that country. President Trump justified the move by saying that the deal did not go far enough in removing ...

President Donald Trump announced on 8 May that the United States was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement, ignoring calls from other signatories to preserve the 2015 deal, which lifted sanctions on Teheran in return for measures scaling back its nuclear ambitions. The decision paves the way for reinstating US sanctions against Iran, which will also affect non-US companies doing business with that country. President Trump justified the move by saying that the deal did not go far enough in removing the threat posed by Iran to the United States and its allies in the Middle East. This note offers links to reports and commentaries from some major international think-tanks and research institutes on the Iran nuclear deal and the US decision.

EU sanctions: A key foreign and security policy instrument

08-05-2018

Sanctions have become an increasingly central element of the EU's common and foreign security policy. At present, the EU has 42 sanctions programmes in place, making it the world's second-most active user of restrictive measures, after the US. Unlike the comprehensive trade embargoes used in the past, the EU has moved towards asset freezes and visa bans targeted at individual persons and companies, aiming to influence foreign governments while avoiding humanitarian costs for the general population ...

Sanctions have become an increasingly central element of the EU's common and foreign security policy. At present, the EU has 42 sanctions programmes in place, making it the world's second-most active user of restrictive measures, after the US. Unlike the comprehensive trade embargoes used in the past, the EU has moved towards asset freezes and visa bans targeted at individual persons and companies, aiming to influence foreign governments while avoiding humanitarian costs for the general population. Other measures in the sanctions toolkit include arms embargoes, sectoral trade and investment restrictions, as well as suspensions of development aid and trade preferences. The declared purpose of EU sanctions is to uphold the international security order as well as defending human rights and democracy standards, by encouraging targeted countries to change their behaviour. Measuring their effectiveness is difficult, as sanctions rarely achieve all their aims, and usually there are other causes to which changes can be attributed. However, even when this primary purpose is not achieved, sanctions may have useful secondary effects, for example by deterring other actors from similar behaviour. The broader the international support for EU sanctions and the closer the relationship between the EU and the targeted country are, the stronger the prospects for success will be. On the other hand, effectiveness can be undermined by inconsistent application of sanctions standards and by the difficulty of coordinating implementation between multiple stakeholders.

Targeted sanctions against individuals on grounds of grave human rights violations – impact, trends and prospects at EU level

26-04-2018

Sanctions are one of the tools utilised to address human rights violations. They are also an increasingly prominent tool in the European Union’s foreign policy. International sanctions policy is part of a global trend towards individualisation: rather than affecting the state as a whole, bans nowadays are targeted at individuals identified as responsible for the abuses. The present study analyses the evolution of targeted sanctions regimes imposed by the EU, as well as by the UN, against individuals ...

Sanctions are one of the tools utilised to address human rights violations. They are also an increasingly prominent tool in the European Union’s foreign policy. International sanctions policy is part of a global trend towards individualisation: rather than affecting the state as a whole, bans nowadays are targeted at individuals identified as responsible for the abuses. The present study analyses the evolution of targeted sanctions regimes imposed by the EU, as well as by the UN, against individuals on grounds of gross human rights violations. It focuses on the most recent developments in international sanctions practice. It provides recommendations on how this tool could be further developed at EU level, making reference to the option of adopting a Global Magnitsky-type legislation allowing for the designation of human rights abusers worldwide.

Ulkopuolinen laatija

Clara Portela

A UN peacekeeping mission in eastern Ukraine?

08-03-2018

As the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine enters its fifth year, the debate on the possibility of a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission has resurfaced, with a new report and a combination of developments on the international stage creating new momentum. Some see such a mission as a potential opportunity to contribute to unfreezing the Minsk II peace deal, paving the way for local elections. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the conflict zone is deteriorating.

As the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine enters its fifth year, the debate on the possibility of a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission has resurfaced, with a new report and a combination of developments on the international stage creating new momentum. Some see such a mission as a potential opportunity to contribute to unfreezing the Minsk II peace deal, paving the way for local elections. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the conflict zone is deteriorating.

North Korean human rights abuses

22-02-2018

In February 2018, the world was exposed to cheerful images of Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, smiling and shaking hands with the South Korean president Moon Jae-in, and of North and South Koreans marching together under the same flag, while an all-female squad of cheerleaders dressed in red occasionally upstaged the athletes at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Against this charm offensive, a few dozen kilometres north, far from the spotlight, up to 120 000 political prisoners continued experiencing ...

In February 2018, the world was exposed to cheerful images of Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, smiling and shaking hands with the South Korean president Moon Jae-in, and of North and South Koreans marching together under the same flag, while an all-female squad of cheerleaders dressed in red occasionally upstaged the athletes at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Against this charm offensive, a few dozen kilometres north, far from the spotlight, up to 120 000 political prisoners continued experiencing atrocities in inhumane political prison camps, known as kwanliso.

The EU's Russia policy: Five guiding principles

08-02-2018

While EU-Russia relations had long been difficult, in 2014 they took an abrupt turn for the worse, after Russia illegally annexed Crimea and fomented separatist insurgencies in eastern Ukraine. To date, little progress has been made towards ending the Ukraine conflict. In addition, new sources of tension have emerged, for example: Russia's military backing for the Assad regime in Syria, and alleged Russian interference in EU politics. In the short term, an easing of tensions seems unlikely. In March ...

While EU-Russia relations had long been difficult, in 2014 they took an abrupt turn for the worse, after Russia illegally annexed Crimea and fomented separatist insurgencies in eastern Ukraine. To date, little progress has been made towards ending the Ukraine conflict. In addition, new sources of tension have emerged, for example: Russia's military backing for the Assad regime in Syria, and alleged Russian interference in EU politics. In the short term, an easing of tensions seems unlikely. In March 2016, EU foreign ministers and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, agreed on five guiding principles for EU-Russia relations: full implementation of the Minsk agreements; closer ties with Russia's former Soviet neighbours; strengthening EU resilience to Russian threats; selective engagement with Russia on certain issues such as counter-terrorism; and support for people-to-people contacts. Implementing each of these principles faces major difficulties. The EU is unlikely to lift sanctions against Russia while implementation of the Minsk agreements remains stalled; the EU's Eastern Neighbourhood remains a zone of confrontation; EU security is threatened by dependence on Russian energy imports and the destabilising effects of aggressive propaganda; EU-Russia cooperation on international issues has become a victim of tensions between the two sides; repressive Russian legislation obstructs EU support for Russian civil society; diplomatic tensions are mirrored by mutual suspicion between ordinary EU citizens and Russians. This is an updated edition of a briefing from October 2016.

Kumppanit