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UK bill to ensure sanctions powers post-Brexit

The UK government has published plans for a Bill that will allow it to impose global sanctions after it leaves the European Union. 04 Aug 2017

The Sanctions Bill will allow the UK to continue to play a "central role in global sanctions to combat the threats of terrorism, conflict and the proliferation of nuclear weapons", the government said.

The UK currently imposes non-UN sanctions through the 1972 European Communities Act. After Brexit it would not be able to enforce those sanctions without new legislation.

The proposed Bill includes additional powers to cut off funding for terrorists by making it easier to freeze assets and block access to bank accounts.

Sanctions regimes will be reviewed annually, and individuals and organisations will be able to challenge any sanctions imposed against them, the government said. The government will also be able to issue exemptions, for example when delivering humanitarian aid, it said.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council the UK plays a central role in negotiating sanctions as a means of countering threats to international peace and security. It is also obliged under international law to implement agreed UN sanctions. As an EU member, the UK has also implemented so-called 'autonomous sanctions' in situations where the UN has chosen not to act, often with the support of other countries such as the US, Canada, Japan and Australia.

UN and EU sanctions typically involve a mixture of three different types of measure: international travel bans, preventing sanctioned persons from obtaining visas and travelling to participating states; asset freezes, requiring the funds and assets of sanctioned persons to be frozen and also restricting the availability of additional economic resources; and financial and trade restrictions, generally targeting specific sectors but sometimes ranging more widely.

The UK currently implements over 30 sanctions regimes including those against Russia, North Korea, Iran, Daesh and Al Qaida.

Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan said: "The new Sanctions Bill will ensure that when the UK leaves the European Union, we retain the ability to impose, update and lift sanctions regimes, both to comply with our international obligations and in pursuit of our foreign policy and national security objectives."

The government began consulting on the Bill in May