Swiss initiative to improve the protection of human rights in the framework of UN sanctions against terrorism

Bern, Press release, 19.04.2011

Upon the initiative of Switzerland, 11 countries are calling on the UN Security Council to strengthen due process guarantees in the sanctions system. They are asking that persons subject to sanctions be granted an effective remedy before an independent and impartial UN authority.

Switzerland has submitted to the United Nations Security Council a letter calling for strengthening of the due process guarantees in the framework of sanctions measures applying to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It has done so together with an informal group of like-minded states, which it helped to found in 2005, consisting of Austria, Belgium, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.

The letter addressed to the Security Council was made public today. It asks that persons subject to sanctions be granted an effective remedy before an independent and impartial UN authority. More specifically, the letter proposes enhancing the mandate of the Ombudsperson whose task is to review the cases of those who wish to challenge the sanctions imposed on them. The Ombudsperson should have better access to the information used to justify the sanctions, as well as the authority to recommend to the Security Council that sanctions be lifted in cases in which they are no longer justified.

Switzerland participates in global counter-terrorism efforts, and implements the sanctions imposed by the Security Council. However, Switzerland is convinced that the UN sanctions system would be more effective if endowed with mechanisms to ensure greater respect for due process guarantees as required by human rights.

In recent years, several lawsuits have been brought in national and regional courts by individuals challenging the sanctions taken against them. Switzerland and the like-minded states base their call on the courts’ requirements for the respect of individual human rights. The persons concerned should have an effective remedy against the sanctions imposed on them.

The Security Council has created various instruments to counter terrorism. Resolution 1267 of 1999, for instance, created a committee whose mandate is to impose sanctions on persons and entities associated with Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda group and the Taliban. Since 1999, the Security Council has, at intervals of 18 months, adopted new resolutions amending the rules governing this committee’s regime. On such occasions, Switzerland has taken the opportunity to suggest improvements to the regime. The most recent resolution (1904) established in 2009 the Office of the Ombudsperson. The next resolution is due for adoption this coming June.

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Further information:

The latest proposals made by Switzerland and like-minded states to the UN Security Council

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