Questions and Answers: EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime

  1. Why was the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime adopted?

Serious human rights vio­la­tions and abus­es are tak­ing place in many parts of the world – fre­quent­ly with­out any con­se­quences for the per­pe­tra­tors. The EU is not pre­pared to stand by while seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abus­es are com­mit­ted. The estab­lish­ment of the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EUGHRSR) is a land­mark ini­tia­tive that under­scores the EU’s deter­mi­na­tion to enhance its role in address­ing seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abus­es worldwide.

The main goal of the new EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime is to enable the EU to stand up in a more tan­gi­ble and direct way for human rights, one of the fun­da­men­tal val­ues of the EU and its for­eign pol­i­cy. Respect for human dig­ni­ty, free­dom, democ­ra­cy, equal­i­ty, the rule of law and human rights under­pin the EU’s exter­nal action. Acts such as geno­cide, crimes against human­i­ty, tor­ture, slav­ery, sex­u­al and gen­der-based vio­lence, enforced dis­ap­pear­ances, or human traf­fick­ing are unac­cept­able. Putting an end to these human rights vio­la­tions and abus­es world­wide is a key pri­or­i­ty for the EU.

The EU has a set of tools avail­able to address human rights vio­la­tions and abus­es. This includes polit­i­cal dia­logue, mul­ti­lat­er­al part­ner­ships, but also sanctions.

At present, the EU has already list­ed more than 200 indi­vid­u­als and enti­ties for human rights vio­la­tions or abus­es in its exist­ing geo­graph­i­cal sanc­tions regimes.

The new EUGHRSR allows the EU to tar­get seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abus­es world­wide, irre­spec­tive of where they occur, where­as exist­ing sanc­tions regimes focus on spe­cif­ic countries.

Sanctions, of course, are not an end in them­selves. They are part of the EU’s broad­er strat­e­gy on human rights. For exam­ple, the EUGHRSR is an impor­tant ele­ment in deliv­er­ing on the EU Action Plan for Human Rights and Democracy 2020–2024, which sets out the over­all strat­e­gy in this field for the next five years.

The EU uses sanc­tions as a polit­i­cal tool aimed at poli­cies or activ­i­ties that the EU wants to influ­ence, the means to con­duct those poli­cies or activ­i­ties and those respon­si­ble for them.

  1. Who is tar­get­ed by the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime?

The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EUGHRSR) tar­gets indi­vid­u­als and enti­ties respon­si­ble for or involved in seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions or abus­es world­wide. It can also tar­get indi­vid­u­als and enti­ties asso­ci­at­ed with the perpetrators.

In what regards the nature of the tar­gets, these can be both state and non-state actors, regard­less of where they are, and regard­less of whether they com­mit those vio­la­tions and abus­es in their own state, in oth­er states or across borders.

EU sanc­tions are tar­get­ed and nev­er aim at the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion. The new EUGHRSR con­tains spe­cif­ic claus­es, incl. a ded­i­cat­ed human­i­tar­i­an dero­ga­tion, allow­ing Member States to autho­rise actions that would oth­er­wise be restrict­ed, if such actions have human­i­tar­i­an pur­pos­es (see also ques­tion 6).

  1. Which acts are cov­ered by the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime?

The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EUGHRSR) cov­ers seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abuses.

More con­crete­ly, acts cov­ered by the EUGHRSR are geno­cide, crimes against human­i­ty, tor­ture and oth­er cru­el, inhu­man or degrad­ing treat­ment or pun­ish­ment, slav­ery, extra­ju­di­cial, sum­ma­ry or arbi­trary exe­cu­tions and killings, enforced dis­ap­pear­ance of per­sons, arbi­trary arrests or detentions.

It also cov­ers oth­er acts, incl. but not lim­it­ed to the fol­low­ing, in so far as those vio­la­tions or abus­es are wide­spread, sys­tem­at­ic or are oth­er­wise of seri­ous con­cern as regards the objec­tives of the com­mon for­eign and secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy set out in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union: traf­fick­ing in human beings, as well as abus­es of human rights by migrant smug­glers as referred to in this answer, sex­u­al and gen­der-based vio­lence, vio­la­tions or abus­es of free­dom of peace­ful assem­bly and of asso­ci­a­tion, vio­la­tions or abus­es of free­dom of opin­ion and expres­sion, vio­la­tions or abus­es of free­dom of reli­gion or belief[1].

  1. Which sanc­tions can the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime impose?

The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EUGHRSR) can ban per­pe­tra­tors from enter­ing the EU, freeze per­pe­tra­tors’ assets in the EU and pro­hib­it any EU per­son from mak­ing funds and eco­nom­ic resources avail­able to per­pe­tra­tors (see also ques­tion 5).

  1. What does the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime mean for EU cit­i­zens and eco­nom­ic operators?

The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EUGHRSR) con­tributes to the respect for human rights, a fun­da­men­tal val­ue of the EU. It does so by attach­ing a cost to seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abus­es in the form of ban­ning per­pe­tra­tors from the EU and freez­ing their assets in the EU. The restric­tions set out in the EUGHRSR also mean that EU oper­a­tors are oblig­ed to freeze the assets of the per­pe­tra­tors listed[2] and must not make funds or eco­nom­ic resources avail­able to them.

EU sanc­tions are applied by EU Member States. For spe­cif­ic ques­tions regard­ing these pro­hi­bi­tions, please also con­tact the nation­al com­pe­tent authorities[3].

For more details on the imple­men­ta­tion of the EUGHRSR, please also con­sult the Commission guid­ance note on the imple­men­ta­tion of cer­tain pro­vi­sions of Regulation (EU) 1998/2020.

  1. Can sanc­tions imposed under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime have unin­tend­ed con­se­quences for the civil­ian population?

All EU sanc­tions are tar­get­ed to min­imise risks of unin­tend­ed con­se­quences on the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion. The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EUGHRSR) only includes indi­vid­ual mea­sures (a trav­el ban, an asset freeze and a pro­hi­bi­tion to make funds and eco­nom­ic resources avail­able), which only apply to the per­pe­tra­tors list­ed. These sanc­tions, as all EU sanc­tions, should not impede the sup­ply of human­i­tar­i­an aid, includ­ing med­ical assis­tance. Specific excep­tions for human­i­tar­i­an pur­pos­es are foreseen.

In par­tic­u­lar, these indi­vid­ual mea­sures include all usu­al stan­dard excep­tions, e.g. the sat­is­fac­tion of basic needs of des­ig­nat­ed per­sons and their depen­dent fam­i­ly mem­bers, includ­ing pay­ments for food­stuffs, med­i­cines and med­ical treatment[4].

In addi­tion, the EUGHRSR includes a ded­i­cat­ed so-called human­i­tar­i­an dero­ga­tion. Derogations mean that a restrict­ed (pro­hib­it­ed) action can be car­ried out after a Member States’ nation­al com­pe­tent authority[5] has grant­ed an authorisation.

Concretely, the dero­ga­tion allows Member States to grant an autho­ri­sa­tion to human­i­tar­i­an oper­a­tors. As a result, cer­tain frozen funds or eco­nom­ic resources can be released, or cer­tain funds or eco­nom­ic resources can be made avail­able, if this is need­ed for human­i­tar­i­an pur­pos­es, such as deliv­er­ing or facil­i­tat­ing the deliv­ery of assis­tance, includ­ing med­ical sup­plies, food, or the trans­fer of human­i­tar­i­an work­ers and relat­ed assis­tance or for evacuations[6].

For more details on the imple­men­ta­tion of these pro­vi­sions, please also con­sult the Commission guid­ance note on the imple­men­ta­tion of cer­tain pro­vi­sions of Regulation (EU) 1998/2020.

  1. Who can pro­pose sanc­tions under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime?

In line with Art. 5 of the Council Decision[7], the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and EU Member States can put for­ward pro­pos­als for list­ings. It is then for the Council to decide on those listings.

[1] For details see also Art. 1 of Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 con­cern­ing restric­tive mea­sures against seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abuses.

[2] For details of list­ed indi­vid­u­als and enti­ties see Annex I of Council Regulation (EU) 1998/2020 con­cern­ing restric­tive mea­sures against seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abuses.

[3] For details of nation­al com­pe­tent author­i­ties see Annex II of Council Regulation (EU) 1998/2020 con­cern­ing restric­tive mea­sures against seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abuses.

[4] For details see also Arts. 2 and 3 of Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 con­cern­ing restric­tive mea­sures against seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abuses.

[5] For details of nation­al com­pe­tent author­i­ties see Annex II of Council Regulation (EU) 1998/2020 con­cern­ing restric­tive mea­sures against seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abuses.

[6] For details see also Art. 4 of Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 con­cern­ing restric­tive mea­sures against seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abuses.

[7] For details see also Art. 5 of Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 con­cern­ing restric­tive mea­sures against seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions and abuses.

EEAS