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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 March 2021
On December 7, 2020, the Council of the European Union adopted two legal instruments, Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 and Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998, which together make up the new EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EUGHRSR). Similar to the U.S. “Global Magnitsky Act,” and in contrast with the EU's existing country-specific sanctions regimes, the EUGHRSR seeks to address human rights abuses worldwide, by providing for the imposition of travel bans as well as financial sanctions on individual human rights offenders—state and non-state alike. The list of designated (natural and legal) persons will be reviewed on a periodic basis.
1 Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/1999 of Dec. 7, 2020, concerning restrictive measures against serious human rights violations and abuses, 2020 O.J. (L 410 I) 13.
2 Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998 of Dec. 7, 2020, concerning restrictive measures against serious human rights violations and abuses, 2020 O.J. (L 410 I) 1.
3 Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2656.
4 Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, 19 U.S.C. § 2101.
5 For an account of the events, see, e.g., Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, Report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (Rapporteur Andreas Gross), Refusing Impunity for the Killers of Sergei Magnitsky, Doc. 13556 (2013) (Nov. 18, 2013) 8-43.
6 Michelle Smoler, The Global Magnitsky Act represents New Era of Smart Sanctions, Human Rights First (Sept. 20, 2017), https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/blog/global-magnitsky-act-represents-new-era-smart-sanctions.
7 See Tom Ruys, Reflections on the “Global Magnitsky Act” and the Use of Targeted Sanctions in the Fight against Grand Corruption, Revue Belge de Droit International 492, 495496 (2017) (with references). Civil society efforts to spread similar legislation in other jurisdictions has been spearheaded among others by Sergei Magnitsky's erstwhile friend and client, Bill Browder, who founded the “Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign.”
8 Andrew Rettman, Dutch Flesh Out Proposal for EU Human Rights Sanctions, EU Observer (Nov. 19, 2018), https://euobserver.com/foreign/143424.
9 European Parliament resolution of Mar. 14, 2019, on a European human rights violations sanctions regime, 2019/2580(RSP), https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-8-2019-0215_EN.html.
10 Alexandra Brzozowski, EU Ministers Break Ground on European “Magnitsky Act,” EURACTIV (Dec. 10, 2019), https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/eu-ministers-break-ground-on-european-magnitsky-act.
11 European External Action Service Press Release 201207_14, Questions and Answers: EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (Dec. 7 2017), https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/90013/questions-and-answers-eu-global-human-rights-sanctions-regime_en.
12 European Commission, Commission Guidance Note on the Implementation of Certain Provisions of Council Regulation (EU) 2020/1998, C(2020) 9432 final (Dec. 17, 2020).
13 The Resolution of the European Parliament (supra note 10) stressed that the EU human rights sanctions regime ought to “symbolically carry Sergei Magnitsky's name” (¶ 2).
14 Id. ¶ 4.
15 See, e.g., Council Regulation (EU) No 208/2014 of Mar 5, 2014, concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Ukraine, 2014 O.J. (L-66 ) 1 (as amended).
16 European Commission, supra note 13, 2.
17 For early critical reflections on the (draft) regime, see, e.g., Nienke van der Have, The Proposed EU Human Rights Sanctions Regime: a First Appreciation, 30 Security & Hum. Rts. 56 (2019); Yulia Miadzvetskaya, Habemus a European Magnitsky Act, European Law Blog (Jan. 13, 2021), https://europeanlawblog.eu/2021/01/13/habemus-a-european-magnitsky-act.
18 State of the Union Address by President von der Leyen at the European Parliament Plenary, Brussels (Sept. 16, 2020), https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/ov/SPEECH_20_1655.
19 Lex horrenda was the epithet famously used by the late Ian Brownlie in the discussions within the International Law Commission (ILC) on third-party countermeasures. See ILC, Summary record of the 2672nd meeting, U.N. Doc. A/CN.4/SR.2672, Y.B. Int'l L. Comm'n 34, 35 (2001-1).
20 See also, e.g., Thomas J. Biersteker, The effectiveness of United Nations targeted sanctions, in Targeted Sanctions: The Impacts and Effectiveness of United Nations Action 220 (Thomas J. Biersteker et al. eds., 2016); Alexandra Hofer, The Efficacy of Targeted Sanctions in Enforcing Compliance with International Law, 113 AJIL Unbound 163 (2019)
21 Not including Switzerland, for instance.
22 Council of the EU, Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union on the alignment of certain countries concerning restrictive measures against serious human rights violations and abuses, Dec. 22, 2020), https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/12/22/declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-european-union-on-the-alignment-of-certain-countries-concerning-restrictive-measures-against-serious-human-rights-violations-and-abuses. Switzerland is not included.
23 Michael O'Kane, Japan Parliamentary Group to Draw Up Legislation on Human Rights Sanctions, EU Sanctions (Jan. 28, 2021), https://www.europeansanctions.com/2021/01/japan-parliamentary-group-to-draw-up-legislation-on-human-rights-sanctions.
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