On 17 March, the EU Institute for Security Studies published a briefing paper saying that, in December 2018, the Council of the European Union initiated discussions about the creation of a new sanctions regime designed to address gross human rights violations, following a proposal from the Netherlands. The planned blacklist would become the EU’s fourth horizontal sanctions regime, enlarging its vast body of autonomous sanctions regimes, i.e. restrictions adopted in the absence of a UN Security Council mandate. However, it notes, to date the sanctions regime is still under discussion, which contrasts with the rapid adoption of previous thematic regimes. Given that the promotion of human rights is a centrepiece of EU foreign policy, consensus among Member States in support of such a regime should be forthcoming. If human rights breaches constitute the dominant motivation for the imposition of EU autonomous sanctions, the paper asks, what is holding up the approval of the prospective regime? The briefing paper aims to unravel the challenges that make it difficult for this regime to take shape, and suggests ways in which the obstacles identified may be surmounted or, at the very least, mitigated.
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