Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2009

Overdue Process: Protecting Human Rights while Sanctioning Alleged Terrorists

George A. Lopez, David Cortright, Alistair Millar, Linda Gerber-Stellingwerf

April 2009

Fourth Freedom Forum


Practices used by the United Nations Security Council (the “Council”) in the name of countering terrorism have led to serious concerns about violations of human rights and limitations on the work of civil society groups. The use of blacklisting has eroded due process rights and discredited elements of the international fight against terrorism. Enhanced efforts to create clear and fair listing procedures are urgently needed and long overdue. With the adoption of Security Council resolutions 1267, 1373, and related resolutions, the Council has required states to impose an assets freeze and other restrictive measures on individuals or entities associated with al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, and/or the Taliban, as designated by the Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee (hereafter the “1267 Committee”) which maintains a list of such individuals and entities (the “Consolidated List”). In addition to the UN regime, some states and the European Union (EU) have established their own practices for designating individuals or entities.1 National lists are often developed through joint intelligence operations with powerful Western states, especially the United States and Great Britain. The decision to place an individual or entity on a list denies basic rights to liberty and property and has serious legal consequences. Whether initiated by the UN, the EU, or national authorities, terrorist listing procedures have faced intense scrutiny and criticism for the lack of due process protections before, during, or after the listing of those named.