Financial Sanctions

1.       What are sanctions/ restrictive measures?

Sanctions – also known, and referred, to as “restrictive measures” – are legally binding measures that can be taken against individuals, entities or countries.

Sanctions are adopted by the United Nations Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, or through decisions taken at European Union level.

The objective in adopting sanctions is to bring about a change in policy and/or behaviour by the target of the restrictive measures.

As such, sanctions are an important foreign policy tool, which are part of an integrated and comprehensive strategic approach to the pursuit of foreign policy objectives.

Sanctions should be targeted, and therefore aim to minimise the consequences for those not responsible for the actions that have triggered the imposition sanctions, such as, for example, the local civilian population.

The measures in force can cover a wide variety of elements such as financial services (e.g. asset freezes), immigration (e.g. visa and travel bans) and trade (e.g. export restrictions).

Sanctions are reviewed at regular intervals to ensure that the measures in force are aligned with developments, as such measures can be strengthened in response to a worsening situation, or relaxed if there is an improvement in circumstances.

A key principle of sanctions is that they must respect fundamental human rights and fundamental freedoms, with a particular emphasis on the right to due process.

Sanctions measures adopted by the United Nations are binding on all United Nations Member States. They are subject to EU measures (typically Council Decisions and Council Regulations) in order to ensure their consistent implementation throughout the 28 EU Member States. In addition to implementing UN sanctions, the EU also adopts sanctions measures of its own, as a tool of its Common Foreign and Security Policy (Article 215 TFEU), as well as in respect of “preventing and combating terrorism and related activities” (Article 75 TFEU). These are known as “autonomous” EU sanctions.

EU Regulations have what is termed “direct effect” in Irish law, meaning that they apply and must be complied with in the same way as Irish legislation.  Penalties for the breach of such EU Regulations, however, are specifically provided for through the enactment of statutory instruments under the European Communities Act 1972 (as amended), as well as certain statutory instruments under the Financial Transfers Act 1992 and the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005.

2.       What are the current sanctions/ restrictive measures in place?

Information on the current sanctions/restrictive measures in force is available online from the relevant UN and EU websites.

United Nations

The UN publishes a consolidated list which includes all individuals and entities subject to sanctions measures imposed by the UN Security Council. The information may be downloaded in a number of searchable formats (PDFs, EXCEL) and comprehensive instructions and guidance for users is provided.

UN consolidated list:

European Union

The EU publishes a consolidated list of sanctions measures in force. While this list is updated regularly, it should be noted that the document is produced for ease of reference only. Definitive up-to-date guidance on EU sanctions is available from the Official Journal of the European Union database which is fully searchable.

EU consolidated list:

Official Journal: or


In Ireland, penalties for breaches of sanctions are provided for by Statutory Instrument (SIs). A comprehensive list of SIs may be found in the, fully searchable, Irish Statute Book

Irish Statute Book:

The Minister for Finance makes Statutory Instruments under domestic legislation – such as the Financial Transfers Act 1992 and the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005 to provide penalties for breach of various EU Regulations relating to financial sanctions. Both the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation make similar statutory instruments providing penalties for the full range of sanctions under the European Communities Act 1972.

3.       Who are the Competent Authorities for sanctions/ restrictive measures in Ireland?

Within the EU each Member State is required to nominate a number of “Competent Authorities” that are engaged with sanctions issues.

In Ireland’s case, there are three “Competent Authorities”: the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and the Central Bank of Ireland.

Given the multi-sectoral nature of sanctions measures however a wide range of Government stakeholders are engaged on sanctions related issues.

The contact details for the Irish Competent Authorities are as follows:

Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade

Political Division 80 St. Stephen’s Green Dublin 2 Tel. (353) 1 408 2000 Fax (353) 1 408 2044 pol.secretariat[AT]dfat[DOT]ie

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Export Control Licensing Unit Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation 23 Kildare Street Dublin 2 Tel. (353) 1 631 2328 Fax (353) 1 631 2562 Email: exportcontrol[AT]entemp[DOT]ie

Central Bank of Ireland:

Financial Sanctions Section Enforcement Department Central Bank of Ireland PO Box 559 Dame Street Dublin 2 Tel. (353) 1 224 6273 Fax (353) 1 671 6904 Email: sanctions[AT]centralbank[DOT]ie

4.       What is the role of the Competent Authorities?

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is responsible for foreign policy and representing Ireland internationally. In the context of sanctions, this involves engagement with the relevant bodies at the United Nations and the EU, and ensuring information is shared with the appropriate Government Departments and Agencies in Ireland.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials represent Ireland at EU working groups where sanctions measures are negotiated and this participation is underpinned by input as appropriate from other Departments.

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation plays a central role in implementing the various EU measures which have been adopted concerning trade sanctions on goods.

Trade sanctions generally include export and/or, in certain cases, import bans on certain goods to/from a certain region.  It is important to note that trade sanctions are targeted at specific goods and thus they are not a blanket ban on trade with a specific region.

Trade sanctions are normally accompanied by bans on the provision of specific services related to the prohibited goods (e.g. brokering, financial services, and technical assistance).

Arms embargoes are a specific type of trade sanction.  They are designed to stop the flow of arms and military equipment to areas where there is conflict, or to regimes which are likely to use them for internal repression or aggression against a foreign country.

Central Bank of Ireland

The Central Bank of Ireland is responsible for the administration, supervision, and enforcement of relevant aspects of financial sanctions in Ireland.

Financial sanctions are primarily concerned with curtailing the movement of payments and capital.

5.       Where can I find out more?

For further information on sanctions issues, comprehensive background material is available as follows:

General Background: UN Sanctions

The United Nations website provides an overview of sanctions policy and the specific work of the various sanctions committees:

General Background: EU Sanctions

The website of the European External Action Service (EEAS) has a dedicated sanctions page with useful background information on EU sanctions, including a user-friendly “Frequently Asked Questions” document:

Guidance on implementation of EU Sanctions

Three core documents provide background and guidance on the implementation of EU Sanctions:

  1. Guidelines on implementation and evaluation of restrictive measures in the framework of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (published 2012):
  2. Supplementary guidance on new elements on the notions of ownership and control and the making available of funds or economic resources (published 2013):
  3. EU Best Practices for the effective implementation of restrictive measures (updated 2015): [LINK – not clear if doc is live]

Alternatively queries may be directed to the relevant Competent Authority as per the contact details provided above.

6.         Applications for authorisation

Where relevant and permitted under specific sanctions regimes, applications for authorisation can be made to the relevant Competent Authority.



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