Financial Sanctions

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Revisiting Coercion

The prohibition of intervention, requiring States to refrain from coercively interfering in the internal or external affairs of other States, is widely recognized as a cardinal rule of customary international law. There is also widespread agreement about the constituent elements of the rule: (1) an interference with a State’s internal or external affairs which is (2) coercive in character. As authoritatively interpreted by the International Court of Justice in the Nicaragua case (para. 205), the principle of non-intervention: forbids all States or groups of States to intervene directly or indirectly in internal or external affairs of other States. A prohibited intervention must accordingly be one bearing on matters in which each State is permitted, by the principle of State sovereignty, to decide freely. One of these is the choice of a political, economic, social and cultural system, and the formulation of foreign policy. Intervention is wrongful when it uses methods of coercion in regard to such choices, which must remain free ones. The element of coercion, which defines, and indeed forms the very…

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Energy Lessons from the Ukraine Crisis

It is a cliché that wars are fought over energy access.  It is just as trite to point out the illegality of military action to secure energy resources for oneself or to deny energy access to adversaries.  As sanctions against Russia and against Ukrainian separatist regions come into focus, energy access again comes front and center.  Germany’s…

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Secondary Sanctions: A Weapon out of Control? Part III: Looking beyond the WTO – possible avenues to raise a Judicial Challenge against Secondary Sanctions

Judicial remedies at the domestic and international level In our two previous posts we examined the legality of secondary sanctions in light of customary law on the exercise of State jurisdiction, on the one end (here), and conventional law, specifically the IMF Articles of Agreement, on the other hand (here). Having established that, depending…

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Secondary Sanctions: A Weapon Out of Control? Part II: The legality of secondary sanctions under conventional law and the IMF’s tacit approval procedure for payment restrictions inspired by security concerns

The legality of so-called ‘non-UN’ or ‘autonomous’ sanctions has been amply debated in recent years. Discussion has arisen, for instance, on their compliance with the principle of non-intervention (see here), or their potential qualification as ‘third-party countermeasures’ (see e.g. here and here). The legal challenges are further compounded when…

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Secondary Sanctions: A Weapon Out of Control? Part I: Permissibility of the sanctions under the law of jurisdiction

Lately, the US has increasingly been ‘weaponizing’ economic sanctions to push through a foreign policy agenda. Making use of the centrality of the US in the global economy, it has forced foreign states and their firms to choose between halting trade with US sanctions targets or forfeiting access to the lucrative US market. In addition, the US…

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