Sanctions, embargoes and restrictions

Types of sanctions and embargoes

When a sanction or embargo is set, the UK follows international procedure to put it in place in British law.

The United Nations (UN) Security Council imposes sanctions through Security Council Resolutions. European Union (EU) acts on these by adopting a Common Position and where appropriate, an EU regulation directly applicable to member states is introduced. Where sanctions and embargo measures require more than administrative action to implement them, the UK introduces new or amends existing secondary licensing and enforcement legislation.

The most frequently applied measures are:

  • embargoes on exporting or supplying arms and associated technical assistance, training and financing
  • a ban on exporting equipment that might be used for internal repression
  • asset freezes on individuals in government, government bodies and associated companies, or terrorist groups and individuals associated with those groups
  • travel bans on named individuals
  • bans on imports of raw materials or goods from the sanctions target

Other measures may be applied according to individual circumstances.

A range of UK Government departments are responsible for the administrative aspects involving sanctions and embargoes.

Targeting sanctions

All sanctions and embargo regimes are targeted. A 'targeted' restriction is focused on individual people or organisations. In some cases, a comprehensive restriction is put in place against a particular country's regime. Sanctions can also be targeted at a particular industry, such as banning the supply of petroleum and related products.