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Procedural Fairness in Sanctions Decision-making: A Good Idea in Theory?

Senior Common Room at Birmingham Law School
Arts and Law, Research
Wednesday 26th October 2011 (12:30-14:00)

If you wish to attend please contact Dr. Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco at

Staff Research Seminar: Devika Hovell


In the late 1990s, concern about the devastating humanitarian impact of blanket UN sanctions – targeted against states, but impacting upon civilian populations – led to a strategic shift in policy by the Security Council. Instead of targeting sanctions against states, the Council decided to target sanctions against “blacklists” of individuals and non-state entities. And though the aim of targeted sanctions was to minimize the impact on civilian populations, the extreme consequence for a blacklisted individual was a form of civic death, consisting of a complete asset freeze, and denial of educational, employment and travel opportunities. It has been well noted that attention to the introduction of any procedural safeguards for individuals subject to the sanctions regime was minimal.

My paper is concerned with the methodology underlying the procedural reform project. In developing a procedural framework for the Security Council sanctions setting, most reform proposals have relied upon traditional international law source methodology, proposing a ‘one-size-fits-all’ set of procedural rights based on the recognition of such rights in ‘x’ number of treaties, or the representation of similar principles in ‘y’ number of states. The obvious problem is that, where principles are transplanted from the domestic to the international setting ‘lock stock and barrel’ with inadequate consideration of their theoretical and conceptual foundations, distortions may creep into their application in the international setting. In my paper, I encourage a subtle shift in international law source methodology, accepting the need to engage in a more problem-oriented inquiry with attention to the theoretical and conceptual foundations of procedural fairness, and the appropriate role of such principles in the Security Council sanctions setting.

Discussant: Dr Alexander Orakhelashvili 


  • Staff Research Seminars take place at 1pm in the Senior or Junior Common Room, Birmingham Law School
  • A sandwich lunch and a glass of wine will be provided from 12:30 pm
  • Postgraduate students and academic staff are welcome to attend.

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