Side-event: Introductory remarks by Ambassador Wittig on the future of the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida sanctions regime

Dec 4, 2012

(Introductory remarks by Ambassador Wittig at a side-event on “Targeted sanctions, human rights and due process – The future of the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida sanctions regime”)

“Welcome to the German House.

I have the pleasure to co-host today, together with the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, this event on the future of the Al-Qaida sanctions regime.

It is a particular honour to have such a high-powered panel: Assistant Secretary General Ivan Šimonovićwill serve as moderator. Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson will present his report to the General Assembly. The Ombudsperson for the Al-Qaida Sanctions Regime, Judge Kimberly Prost will reply. Two specialists, Sue Eckert of Brown University and Paul Champ, the renowned lawyer, will provide their own comments. There will also be an opportunity for questions and answers.

A few words on substance:

In early 2011, Germany assumed the Chair of the then 1267 Sanctions Committee, covering both Al-Qaida and the Taliban. At the time Germany took the helm, there was a clear need for reforming the sanctions regime.

Among other demands, there were calls to strengthen the due process elements. Critics found remedies to listed individuals and entities insufficient. Sanctions implementation was successfully challenged in various courts -- the “Kadi case” which made it (twice) to the European Court of Justice being most prominent.

These concerns demanded a determined response. Helping find a consensus for reform was Germany’s main assignement as chair of the 1267 Sanctions Committee.

In June 2011, the Security Council adopted its Resolutions 1988 and 1989 (2011) pertaining to the old 1267 regime. These resolutions represent landmarks for UN sanctions policy. Of particular importance was the Security Council’s decision, in Resolution 1989, substantially to strengthening of the role of the Ombudsperson for the Al-Qaida sanctions regime. The Ombudsperson had been established in 1999 to assist the Sanctions Committee in processing applications for removing individuals from the sanctions list.

The conclusions of her reports on de-listing requests, previously of an advisory character, were upgraded to recommendations. The Sanctions Committee can now overrule these recommendations only by consensus. Committee member retains the option, however, of taking a case to the Security Council, which would then decide by its normal procedures.

So far, 34 appeals for delisting have been to the Ombudsperson’s Office. 19 individuals have been delisted. Since the Ombudsperson regime was strengthened in June 2011, 20 individuals have presented delisting requests, and 10 were delisted. The other pending cases are at various stages of decision-making.

Among the beneficiaries of the new Al-Qaida sanctions regime was Mr. Kadi, whose case I already mentioned. He applied for de-listing through the Office of the Ombudsperson, and was taken off the Al-Qaida sanctions list on 5 October 2012.

One and a half years after the adoption of UNSCR 1989 in June 2011, the Al Qaida sanctions regime is coming up for renewal. Germany and the Group of Like-Minded Countries on Targeted Sanctions have prepared a number of proposals for the further development and fine-tuning of the regime. Among these are

·        Enhancing cooperation of States with the Ombudsperson for information gathering,

·        Codifying the Ombudsperson practice,

·        Improving transparency in procedure and substance, including disclosing the designating state, and clarifying listing criteria,

·        Extending the Ombudsperson’s mandate,

·        Allowing the Ombudsperson to transmit requests for humanitarian exemptions, and to assist persons or entities who are inadvertently affected by the sanctions regime,

·        Imposing time limits for all listings,

·        And administrative improvements.

Many of these proposals found broad support at the 14 November Security Council debate on the work of the Committees working on counter-terrorism. I am confident that there will be serious discussion among Security Council members of the Special Rapporteur’s arguments, the Ombudsperson’s comments, and of the proposals made by the Like-Minded Group on Targeted Sanctions.

Assistant Secretary Šimonović, I pass the microphone to you.”

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