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Switzerland submits new proposals to the UN Security Council for better protection of human rights in the framework of the UN sanctions against terrorism


Article - Upon the renewed initiative of Switzerland, eleven States are calling on the UN Security Council to enhance the due process guarantees in the system of sanctions against Al-Qaida.They are asking, in particular, for a strengthening of the competences of the Ombudsperson as a contact point for persons affected by sanctions.

In a statement before  the UN Security Council on Wednesday 14th November 2012, Switzerland called for the due process guarantees in the framework of sanctions against Al-Qaida to be strengthened. It has done so together with an informal group of states (Belgium, Costa Rica, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Austria and Sweden), which it co-founded in 2005 and which has called for a strengthening of the rights of those affected for several years.

The letter from the like-minded states was submitted to the UN Security Council in early November. In it they call upon the UN Security Council to encourage the states to submit to the Ombudsperson all information relevant to the inclusion of a person on the sanctions list. Otherwise, the Ombudsperson should recommend the removal of that person from the sanctions list. Furthermore, the Ombudsperson should be able to inform the persons affected about the identity of the state which demanded their inclusion on the sanctions list. The person should also have the right to be informed about the state of play of their request for delisting. To strengthen the independence of the Ombudsperson, his or her mandate should be extended to an unlimited period. The Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council should be obliged to specify the precise reasons for a listing or state the current reasons against a removing a person from the sanctions list. To improve the respect for the rule of law, Switzerland and the other like-minded states are also demanding that the mandate of the Ombudsperson be extended to all sanction regimes of the UN Security Council.

Switzerland participates in global counter-terrorism efforts, and implements the sanctions imposed by the Security Council. At the same time, Switzerland is convinced that the UN sanctions system would be more effective if endowed with mechanisms to ensure greater respect for due process guarantees and human rights. In recent years, several lawsuits have been brought in national and regional courts by individuals challenging the sanctions taken against them. Switzerland and the like-minded states base their initiative on the courts’ requirements for the respect of human rights. The persons concerned should have an effective right to appeal before a UN body against the sanctions imposed on them.

The Security Council has created various instruments to counter terrorism. Resolution 1267 of 1999, for instance, established a committee whose mandate is to impose sanctions on persons and entities associated with Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaida or the Taliban. Since 1999, the Security Council has, at intervals of 18 months, adopted new resolutions amending the rules of procedure of the Al-Qaida/Taliban Committee. On such occasions, Switzerland has taken the opportunity to suggest improvements in the regime. The most recent resolution (Resolution 1989 of 2011) led to the strengthening of the Ombudsperson's role. The Ombudsperson can receive requests from persons and entities seeking to be removed from the sanctions list, and submit recommendations to the Sanctions Committee in this regard. These recommendations carry great weight. They have legal force if the Committee does not raise an objection by consensus within 60 days or refer the matter to the Security Council for a decision on the question of whether to delist. At present, the Canadian Kimberly Prost, previously a judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, holds the post of Ombudsperson. The next resolution of the UN Security Council on the renewal of the sanctions regime is due for adoption this coming December.


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Protecting human rights and international humanitarian law in the fight against terrorism

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