On 7 June 2019, Dr James Cockayne was invited to brief the United Nations Security Council during an open debate on its working methods. The debate was organized by the Permanent Mission of Kuwait to the United Nations.
The effective work of this Council has contributed to a long period of relative calm in international affairs. Risks to the effectiveness and legitimacy of its working methods must be considered carefully. There are warning signs, however, of a fairly clear risk to that effectiveness and that legitimacy, in an area of particular significance for the Council: targeted sanctions.
Dr Cockayne noted that hardly a day goes by without evidence of the role that targeted sanctions play in efforts to maintain international peace and security, from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ten years ago, due process concerns around the working methods used to take sanctions listing decisions in the counter-terrorism context led the Council to adapt those working methods. The Council created the Office of the Ombudsperson to strengthen due process protections in that context and the focal point arrangements for other sanctions contexts.
Today, a new wave of due process litigation is successfully challenging listing decisions relating to those other contexts, including the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Iraq and Libya. And so today, the Security Council may once again need to consider adapting its sanctions committees’ working methods, to strengthen due process protections and maintain control over this central tool for maintaining international peace and security.
The good news for the Council is that there are numerous practical options available to explore.