UN Counter-Terrorism sanctions

As a member of the U.N., Australia must impose United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions in addition to Australian autonomous sanctions. Each UNSC sanctions regime becomes Australian law through the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945 (Cth).

This article explores the details of the Counter-Terrorism (UNSC 1373) sanctions regime.


Counter-Terrorism sanctions regime implications for Australia

The UNSC adopted Resolution 1373 on 28 September 2001 in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As a U.N. member state, Australia was thereby required to suppress terrorism and uphold national and international security by implementing targeted financial sanctions in relation to persons involved in terrorist activities. This is a two-step process in which:

  • Australia’s Foreign Minister designates persons or entities who commit, attempt to commit, participate in, or facilitate the commission of terrorist acts.
  • It then becomes an offence to use or deal with the assets of, or to make an asset available to, the designated person or entity.


What actions are restricted?

The Counter-Terrorism sanctions regime imposes:

  • Restrictions on providing assets to designated persons or entities – this applies whether the asset is made available directly or indirectly.
  • Restrictions on dealing with the assets of designated persons or entities (requirement to freeze assets) – any asset owned or controlled by a designated person or entity will be “frozen” and it is then prohibited to use, move, or sell it. “Asset” is defined as an asset or property of any kind, whether tangible or intangible, movable or immovable. It is also prohibited to allow or facilitate another person to use or deal with an asset.


Who must comply with the sanctions?

Australian sanction laws apply to activities in Australia and to activities undertaken overseas by Australian citizens and Australian‐registered bodies corporate.

If you become aware that you are holding an asset of a designated person or entity, you are required to freeze (hold) that asset and notify the AFP as soon as possible.

DFAT provides a Consolidated List of all persons and entities who are subject to targeted financial sanctions under Australian sanctions law.


Sanctions permits

In some circumstances, it may be possible to obtain a permit from the Minister for Foreign Affairs to engage in an activity that would otherwise be prohibited by a sanctions measure.

Sanctions permits may be granted if the activity meets certain criteria, including that the activity is a:

  • Basic expense dealing,
  • Legally required dealing,
  • Contractual dealing,
  • Required payment dealing, or
  • Extraordinary expense dealing.

Further information is provided under Regulation 5 of the Charter of the United Nations (Dealing with Assets) Regulations 2008.


Penalties for non-compliance with the Counter-Terrorism sanctions regime

It is a serious criminal offence to contravene a sanctions measure (or a condition of a sanctions permit). The penalties include up to ten years in prison and substantial fines.


Key takeaways

As a member of the U.N., Australia is required by law to implement United Nations Security Council sanctions, including the Counter-Terrorism sanctions regime. Australian citizens and companies must ensure that they do not provide assets to, or deal with the assets of, designated persons or entities. Otherwise, they could face substantial fines and potential terms of imprisonment.

Nyman Gibson Miralis provides expert advice and representation in complex matters involving both Australian and international sanctions. 

Contact us if you require assistance.