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Sanctions and other export controls

What are sanctions and what is their purpose?

Sanctions are measures which the international community targets certain countries and/or entities to coerce them into changing their behaviour so that they will no longer threaten the international peace and security or abuse human rights. Kofi Annan, seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, described sanctions as 'a middle ground between words and war'.

Who imposes them?

The United Nations Security Council SessionThe United Nations (UN) Security Council under Chapter VII (Article 41) of the Charter is the responsible body to adopt measures which are binding on all UN member states.

The European Union (EU), on the other hand, independently adopts sanctions also in accordance with its other objectives of its foreign and security policy. For example protection of human rights, rule of law and democratic principles.

Other organisations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) may also request countries to impose restrictive measures. This could be for a variety of reasons, ie. to stop the sale of light weapons to certain regions.

Different types of sanctions?

Sanctions can take the form of any of a range of restrictive/coercive measures. They can include arms embargoes, travel bans, asset freezes, reduced diplomatic links, reduction in any military relationship, flights bands, suspension from international organisations, withdrawal of aid, trade embargoes, restriction on cultural/sporting links and other.

  • For specific country measures please see the relevant country pages.

Sanctions and export controls by country

Information on the countries that are under export controls and sanctions.

Measures against terrorism

Find out about the specific measures we have in place against terrorists.

UK legislation

In the UK, binding UN embargoes are implemented by prohibiting the export of goods and technology on the Military List.

United Nations Sanctions

The UN Charter allows for the use of collective measures, i.e. 'sanctions', where there is deemed to be a threat to international peace and security.

Competent authorities

The European Union applies targeted restrictive measures (sanctions) against a number of third countries, entities and individuals.

Contact us

The Sanctions Team
International Organisations Department
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street

Tel: +44 (0)20 7008 3163

See also

Useful links

Related documents