Sanctions Implementation and the UN Security Council: The Case for Greater Transparency

It is the responsibility of UN member states to implement sanctions adopted by the Security Council, but the council plays an important role in facilitating and promoting effective implementation.

This issue brief discusses the role of the Security Council and makes the case for greater transparency at all stages of the council’s work as a means to improve the effectiveness of sanctions implementation. In particular, the brief reviews current council practices and procedures relating to sanctions on North Korea and Iran, including the working methods of the 1718 and 1737 committees, and it identifies possible options for the council to improve its sanctions implementation through transparency-related measures.

It argues that promoting transparency is particularly important in the context of the North Korea and Iran sanctions regimes. Greater transparency helps to ensure that member states have access to the information required to effectively implement sanctions; and it helps to raise awareness about why sanctions are being imposed, thus fostering greater engagement among member states. In this way, the brief argues, transparency improves the legitimacy of sanctions. The imposition of sanctions is a sensitive political issue. Greater transparency at all stages of the sanctions process, including when designing and drafting council decisions, can help ensure that sanctions are seen as necessary and legitimate in a given situation.


This issue brief serves as a supplement to the sanctions implementation manual produced by IPI and Compliance and Capacity Skills International (CCSI) as part of a joint project funded by the government of Canada.