Call for input to reports on “secondary sanctions, civil and criminal penalties for circumvention of sanctions regimes, and over-compliance with sanctions” and “Unilateral sanctions in the cyber world”


Deadline
28 February 2022
Issued by
Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights
Purpose
To inform the Special Rapporteur’s thematic reports to be presented to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly

Background

Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolutions 27/21 and 45/5 and General Assembly resolution 74/154, the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights is requested in fulfilling her mandate, inter alia, to gather all information relevant to the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights; to study relevant trends, developments and challenges; and to make guidelines and recommendations on ways and means to prevent, minimize and redress their adverse impact on human rights; as well as to draw the attention of the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly and the High Commissioner to relevant situations and cases.

As unilateral sanctions continue to proliferate despite their dubious legality under international law, the Special Rapporteur takes note of the increasing use of two general means of enforcement: the imposition of secondary sanctions, or sanctions against presumed violators of unilateral sanctions; and civil and criminal penalties for circumventing unilateral sanctions. Because many unilateral sanctions regimes are complex and compliance may be difficult or costly to ascertain, and as penalties for violations are sometimes heavy, these means of enforcement are known to deter even permitted interactions with targeted countries, sectors, entities and individuals by counterparties that lack the expertise or resources to ensure full compliance, or that fear the consequences of inadvertent breaches.

It has been established that unilateral sanctions can negatively impact the human rights of direct and indirect targets. The use of these means of enforcement, combined with the voluntary over-compliance with sanctions, can exacerbate the harm they cause to the rights of affected individuals. Moreover, the extraterritorial enforcement of unilateral sanctions regimes, which is also questionable under international law, expands the geographic scope and consequently the number of individuals around the world whose rights are negatively impacted by both the sanctions and the over-compliance.

These enforcement trends are occurring in parallel with an increasing global reliance on cyber technologies and the growth of unilateral sanctions that involve the cyber world. Unilateral sanctions may be imposed against states or entities accused of engaging in or providing support for cyber-attacks and other malicious activities in the cyber sphere. In addition, cyber activities may be used as a means of enforcing unilateral sanctions, or of circumventing them. Moreover, the sanctions themselves may take the form of denying the possibility of engaging in cyber activities: prohibiting exports of hardware and software to a targeted state or individual, or restricting access to the Internet, either generally or by banning access to social media accounts, on-line meeting and conference services, academic and other publications, scientific databases, etc. The growing role of cyber activities in the application of unilateral sanctions can harm a broad range of human rights, and the scope of this impact can range from individuals to entire populations.

Objectives

The circumstances listed above have led the Special Rapporteur to undertake two thematic studies: one on “Secondary sanctions, civil and criminal penalties for circumvention of sanctions regimes, and over-compliance with sanctions” as well as one on “Unilateral sanctions in the cyber world.” In accordance with the established practice of thematic mandate-holders, the Special Rapporteur, Ms. Alena Douhan, welcomes inputs by States, UN agencies, regional and international organizations, businesses, banks, national human rights institutions, civil society, scholars and research institutions, and others who may wish to submit input for one or both studies, guided by the questionnaire below. Recommendations, evidence and case studies are most welcome.

Key questions and types of input sought

“Secondary sanctions, civil and criminal penalties for circumvention of sanctions regimes, and over-compliance with sanctions”

  1. What is the position of your Government on the legality of secondary sanctions imposed on parties (a) within the sanctioning State and (b) extraterritorially, as a means of enforcing unilateral sanctions? What is the position of your Government on the legality of civil and criminal penalties against (a) domestic parties and (b) parties outside the sanctioning State for violating unilateral sanctions?
  2. Has the threat or imposition of secondary sanctions or of civil or criminal penalties impeded trade in general or specific transactions in goods or services between your State and other states? If so, please describe. I would be most grateful for information on cases in which this has occurred, the consequences for human rights, and the parties subject to those consequences (individuals, populations, etc.).
  3. Has your State, or have entities in your State, been engaged in, or affected by, over-compliance with unilateral sanctions? If so, please be as specific as possible about what goods have been involved (including those of a humanitarian nature); what services have been affected (financial transactions, transportation of cargo, etc.); and any impact this has had on economic and social situations and on human rights in either the sanctioning or the sanctioned State.
  4. If your State, or if individuals or entities in your State, are targeted by unilateral sanctions, how has over-compliance affected your State’s national economy, the social situation, or specific entities or individuals? What human rights consequences have there been?
  5. If your State is a third party with respect to a unilateral sanctions regime (that is, neither the sanctioning nor the sanctioned State), is any over-compliance with the sanctions occurring on the part of entities or individuals in your State? Please describe. Has this had any impact within your State, particularly on the human rights of individuals?
  6. Have businesses in your State / you are involved with, ever had an experience of deciding to stop cooperation with trade partners from a States under sanctions or prevented bank transfers from to individuals and companies not being directly targeted because of secondary sanctions, fear of civil or criminal penalties (over-compliance).
    1. If you are involved in an entity that over-complies with unilateral sanctions, please describe (a) the motivation for this action or policy; (b) the impact on your entity’s business or other activity; and (c) any knowledge of the impact of the over-compliance in the state targeted by the sanctions.
  7. If you are an individual or are involved in an entity, have you (or has it) been the subject of secondary sanctions or of a civil or criminal process? Has it been affected by over-compliance with sanctions? What consequences have there been (personal, business, family, etc.) and how has this affected your (their) human rights?

“Unilateral sanctions in the cyber world”

  1. Has your Government imposed unilateral sanctions against states or entities abroad that are accused of engaging in or providing support for cyber attacks or other malicious activities in the cyber sphere? Has your State, or have entities in your State, been targeted by such sanctions? If so, what has been the impact (economic, social, business, etc.) and what has been the effect on human rights within your state or abroad?
  2. Has your State, or have individuals or entities in your State, been subject to unilateral sanctions that impede the ability to obtain hardware, software or any other goods or material used in cyber activities (communications, infrastructure, e-government systems, production, maintenance, etc.) What has been the impact on human rights in your State?
  3. What is the position of your Government on the use and role of social media for advocating in favour of or against unilateral sanctions, and for distributing information about designated individuals or entities? What is the impact on human rights of this activity?
  4. Has your Government, public servants, entities or individuals of your State been subject to sanctions that deny access to the Internet generally, to social media accounts, to on-line meeting and conference services, to academic or other publications, to scientific databases, etc? How has this affected human rights?

How and where to submit inputs

Input may be sent by e-mail. They must be received by 28 February 2022.

E-mail address
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Input for thematic reports 2022
File formats
Word format possible for all languages
PDF format possible only for the English and Russian version
Accepted languages
English, Russian, Spanish, French




Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures
Recent thematic reports
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Prof. Alena Douhan
Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights
OHCHR-UNOG
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneve 10
Switzerland

Email: ucm@ohchr.org

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