Antonios Tzanakopoulos, D.Phil. cand. (Oxford), LL.M. (NYU) (Athens), is Lecturer in Public International Law at the University of Glasgow. A relevant paper presented at the University of Vienna in September 2009 can be found here in draft form.
I. Introduction: the 1267 Regime and Domestic Courts
For quite some time now there has been significant discontent about the fundamental rights implications of Security Council sanctions, in particular individual sanctions under the regime established by Resolution 1267 (1999) and subsequent Resolutions (see eg this blog here and here). The 1267 regime obligates UN Member States to freeze the assets of persons designated by the relevant Sanctions Committee as being ‘associated with’ Al-Qaida and the Taliban. But those identified by the Committee have no recourse against their designation, and no other remedy except the possibility to petition the Committee for delisting. Decisions on such petitions are taken in camera and no justification is required (see the Committee’s Guidelines).
Since Security Council decisions are not directly enforceable in most municipal legal orders, Member States of the UN have had to transpose the relevant measures imposed by the Council. This was done through the adoption of domestic implementing acts, usually of administrative character, in order to comply with their obligations under Article 25 of the UN Charter. The fact however that sanctions were imposed ‘on the ground’, as it were, by domestic administrative decisions, combined with the lack of any other recourse, has led affected individuals to attack the domestic implementing measures in the courts of various Member States (see here for the Monitoring Team reports, detailing challenges in the Annex).
II. Domestic Courts Have Teeth
The ECJ, in a decision controversial in its reasoning, if not in its outcome, was the first court to finally annul such ‘domestic’ implementing measures (in this case adopted on the EC level) acceding to the claim of two listed persons, Kadi and the Al Barakaat Foundation. That decision would have effectively forced the 27 Member States of the Community in breach of their international obligations under the Resolutions and Article 25 of the Charter. The ECJ, however, suspended the effect of the annulment for three months, by which time the Community had adopted new implementing measures.
Still, the ECJ may just have provided the impetus that other domestic courts needed in order to embark upon their own ‘decentralized resistance’ against Security Council sanctions under the 1267 regime. The CFI annulled the domestic implementing measures with respect to Othman, another listed person, without even granting the grace period that the ECJ provided for in Kadi. But most importantly, a month after Othman, on 10 July 2009, the Queen’s Bench of the English High Court quashed the Al-Qaida and Taliban (United Nations Measures) Order 2006 (‘AQO’) in Hay v HM Treasury ( EWHC 1167 (Admin)). Read the rest of this entry…