Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

UN Sanctions and International Law

Are UN sanctions regimes in need of further formalization in terms of substantive design, procedural architecture and with a view to regulating and governing the interplay with other regimes?

2015 - 2020
Larissa van den Herik

The past two decades have witnessed an unprecedented intensification of the use of collective non-military enforcement measures by the UN Security Council in the form of UN sanctions. The proliferation of sanctions has resulted in a sophistication of UN sanctions regimes, both in terms of their design and implementation. Modern sanctions regimes are tailor-made to target only those actors that are directly responsible for maintaining a threat to the peace. This individualization of sanctions goes hand in hand with demands for greater formalization. Indeed, there is an increasing resort by the UN Security Council to quasi-legal and legal standards and practices in all phases and stages of the regimes. The aim of the research project is precisely to examine and evaluate these processes of individualization and formalization of UN sanctions. In addition, it aims to reflect on questions of interplay between UN sanctions regimes and other institutions, including regional organisations, States and the International Criminal Court.

Part of the research is carried out in the context of a study group on UN Sanctions and International Law, established in November 2014 by Prof. Larissa van den Herik as part of the International Law Association. An important objective of the study group is to examine ways to improve the use of UN sanctions from an international law perspective and to make them less arbitrary.

The Study Group aims to present a first draft report at the 2016 Johannesburg ILA Conference. 

A research project on the role of the Security Council in the enforcement of peace agreements is related to the research project. 

This research project is part of the programme ‘ Exploring the Frontiers of International Law’ , focusing on the interaction between institutional and normative transformation. Research projects that are related to this project include ‘Ensuring compliance with intra-state peace agreements: the role of the United Nations Security Council in the enforcement of hybrid peace agreements’ (Daniëlla Dam-de Jong).

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