UK parliamentary committee criticises post Brexit sanctions policy

Maya Lester QC

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has published a report on UK sanctions policy entitled ‘Fragmented and incoherent: the UK’s sanctions policy”. (Maya Lester QC and Michael O’Kane) submitted written evidence to the inquiry here and Maya Lester QC’s oral evidence is here.  In the Committee’s view:

  • The Government doesn’t have a clear strategy for a clear strategy for sanctions and little thought has gone into the UK’s priorities.  There should now be a major review and the UK should seize the opportunity to become a global leader in sanctions policy. The committee is “deeply concerned” that “so little high-level thought” appears to have gone into considering questions such as: what are the costs and benefits of divergence on key sanctions regimes, how can the UK make the most of its power in financial services, where do the UK’s interest most closely align with those of our key international partners, how we will influence their decision-making in future etc.  The review should consider overall strategic goals, policy planning and formation, implementation a and enforcement.
  • Sanctions policy, implementation and enforcement are fragmented across government – there should be a Senior Responsible Officer accountable to the National Security Council.  The NSC should designate sanctions strategy to be an urgent priority, allocate resources accordingly, and begin an urgent review of UK sanctions strategy “consulting both internal Government stakeholders and external experts” and report to Parliament by the end of 2019.
  • There should be a review of the effectiveness of OFSI before the end of 2019, as the Treasury Select Committee had recommended in March 2019, including the pros and cons of having a single body for design and implementation, and how OFSI can improve its engagement with private sector bodies on the front line of sanctions implementation.
  • The Government must adopt a clear view on whether the UK can impose Magnitsky sanctions (for gross human rights violations) while still an EU member state before the end of June, and should publish a list of people prevented from entering the UK.
  • The Foreign & Commonwealth Office should play a greater role in combatting money laundering, and should consider whether the EU’s test for ownership & control is sufficient in a Russia context.

As previously stated on the EU Sanctions blog, RUSI is currently engaged in a wide ranging and in-depth review of sanctions policy post Brexit, involving industry and legal experts, with sponsorship and input from Peters & Peters.