International sanctions
International sanctions have become a key element in contemporary international relations. Since the international crisis struck, States have increasingly opted to resort to adopting international sanctions as an alternative to the use of armed force.

Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter establishes the legal basis for the imposition of coercive measures through the United Nations. Articles 39 and 41 grant the Security Council the power to adopt measures that do not involve the use of armed force, with the ultimate aim of maintaining or re-establishing international peace and security.

In parallel, the EU establishes restrictive measures as a key tool in its Common Foreign and Security Policy which, by virtue of Article 21 of the Treaty of the EU, can be used to defend its strategic interests and protect its fundamental goals overseas.

In general, international sanctions are coercive measures imposed on States, non-State parties or individuals that represent a threat to international peace and security. The aims sought when imposing sanctions are: to alter certain conduct on the part of a State, a non-State party or a group of individuals (coercing), reduce their ability to manoeuvre or weaken their position (constraining) and publicly naming and shaming all those parties that represent a threat to international peace and security (signalling).

The most frequent measures consist of the establishment of restrictions of an economic-trade or financial nature, including arms embargoes or individual sanctions that are aimed at certain individuals, such as banning their entry into another State or freezing their assets.

As a general rule, sanctions must be imposed, as far as possible, on the individuals or bodies responsible for the undesired policies or actions in order to mitigate adverse effects on third parties. Moreover, exemptions are provided in order to satisfy the basic needs of those people sanctioned. Their adoption and application must always adhere to international law, they must respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the right to legal protection and an effective remedy, and include a sunset or review clause in order to guarantee that the restrictive measures are adapted to the outcome of events and can be lifted as and when appropriate.

International sanctions are of a fundamentally preventive nature and must be proportionate to the goal sought.

As regards the United Nations, the most frequent sanctions regimes used are those aimed at the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the fight against terrorism, conflict resolution and the support for democratic regimes. The adoption of regimes is carried out through a resolution of the Security Council, which must receive a positive vote from at least nine members and no vote against by any of the permanent members. This resolution is binding on all Member States.
United Nations sanctions
Consolidated list of sanctions


As regards the European Union, the legal basis depends on the nature of the restrictive measures. When it is a question of adopting a new restrictive measure, a Decision of the European Council must be unanimously adopted in the area of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) (Articles 29 and 31 of the Treaty of the European Union), all the elements of which are binding on all Member States. When a CFSP Decision provides for the total or partial interruption or reduction of economic and financial relations with one or several third countries, the Council will adopt, by virtue of Article 215 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) an EU Regulation by a qualified majority, upon a joint proposal from the European Commission and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, which is binding in all its elements on the general recipients (individuals and legal entities of the EU).

European Union sanctions
Official Journal of the European Union
European Union legislation
 
There are three types of different regimes: those that represent a simple transposition of the measures agreed within the framework of the United Nations (transposition measures), those which are adopted on a supplementary basis to extend the measures taken by the Security Council (additional measures) and those which are approved by own initiative (autonomous measures).

Their application and enforcement fall to the competent authorities of the Member States and the Commission; in the case of the former, through national measures. The competent authorities of the Member States are responsible for establishing internal sanctions in the case of a violation of the restrictive measures, granting exceptions, receiving and distributing information and cooperating with economic operators, reporting on their application to the Commission and acting as a liaison with the sanctions committees of the Security Council in relation to the sanctions imposed by that institution.

Document of the competent Spanish authorities

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