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United Nations Targeted Sanctions, the International Rule of Law and the European Court of Justice's Judgment in Kadi and al-Barakaat

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This article analyzes the judgment of the European Court of Justice in the Kadi and al-Barakaat case from the perspective of international law and the rule of law among nations. The conclusions drawn are with regard to international law and thus not necessarily decisive for the application of domestic law and Community law to the issue of targeted United Nations (UN) sanctions. It is argued that targeted UN sanctions in the form of blacklisting and freezing of financial assets are lawful under applicable international law as a species of economic warfare. Even if, contrary to expectation, they were unlawful when first introduced, consent and active participation on part of the European states mean that they are in all likelihood precluded from protesting against them now. The European Community Court's judgment cannot affect the validity under international law of targeted UN sanctions. If it turns out that the UN sanctions can no longer be accommodated within Community law, which is an implication but by no means an immediate result of the judgment, it will be for each state to apply its national legislation and continue to implement the sanctions, disregarding Community law if necessary. This would be a serious test of the European states' professed devotion to international law.

Affiliations: 1: Reporting clerk, Administrative Court of Appeal (Kammarrätten), Stockholm, Sweden


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