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When Worlds Collide: Enforcing United Nations Security Council Asset Freezes in the EU Legal Order

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Asset freezes are since 2000 being applied by the United Nations (UN) Security Council (SC) to non-state actors. This came about as a ‘mutation’ of the sanctions program initiated by Resolutions 1267 (1999), 1333 (2000) and 1390 (2002): currently the targets are only supected terrorists or terrorism financiers.

This ‘mutation’ has created perplexities and problems, namely for the EU, which enforces UN SC Resolutions by a combination of first and second pillar methods. The main problem concerns issues of fundamental rights, currently being litigated.

The debate on the compatibility of the current practice of UN SC asset freezing within EU law takes place amidst a fundamental lack of clarity as to the exact purposes and operational objectives of such freezes. It is argued that this practice amounts to an ad hoc (para-)criminal procedure measure, enacted by political bodies rather than courts, and without judicial oversight.

The current UN SC practice of asset freezing against non-state actors breaches the right to judicial review, as well as the presumption of innocence. If this practice it is to continue at all, methods that make it fully compatible with the rule of law must be adopted. Especially, their renewal ad aeternum should not be possible.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Faculty of Law, University of Macau

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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