Global Policy Forum

Sanctions Against Al Qaeda and the Taliban

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The UN Security Council first imposed sanctions on Afghanistan in October 1999 with Resolution 1267, to force the Taliban, the de facto government of Afghanistan, to hand over the terrorist Osama bin Laden to the "appropriate authorities." Bin Laden has been indicted by the United States.

In December 2000, after strong pressure from the United States and Russia, the Security Council strengthened the sanctions. The new sanctions were imposed despite an August 2000 report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which highlighted the "tangible negative effect" on Afghanistan's populace of the existing sanctions. Another draft OCHA report has said that "no poor country has ever been sanctioned the way Afghanistan has."

After the September 11, 2001 attacks the Security Council became more aware of Al-Qaeda's capabilities and intentions, and developed a unique sanctions regime to apply to the challenges posed by international terrorism. In an unprecedented development, the Security Council passed a number of resolutions approving "targeted" sanctions on alleged members and associates of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Partly in response to earlier concerns that general sanctions hurt innocent civilians, the Security Council attempted to use travel bans, asset freezes and arms embargoes to selectively defeat alleged terrorists and their co-conspirators.

Although the Security Council seemed to have sufficiently accounted for humanitarian concerns, the human rights community argued that these sanctions violated the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual. In particular, legal scholars and human rights activists pointed out that sanctions targeted at individuals denied these people their due process rights. Furthermore, numerous individuals who felt that they were mistakenly targeted by the UN sanctions found that there was no mechanism to have themselves removed from the list of targeted individuals. The fact that the Council initially provided no justification for listing the particular individuals that were targeted shrouded the debate in secrecy.

In recent resolutions, the Security Council has focused on resolving the controversies presented by targeted sanctions. The Security Council has created a de-listing mechanism and has endeavored to provide justification for the targeting of particular individuals. However, the debate over targeted sanctions persists. To learn more about this debate, visit our page dedicated to targeted sanctions.

On this page, you will find a list of the UN resolutions related to this issue. Also provided are key UN documents and articles from the media that provide in-depth analysis and insight.



UN Resolutions and Key Documents | UN Documents | Articles | Archived Articles


UN Resolutions and Key Documents


UN Security Council Resolutions

A list of Security Council Resolutions taking action against Al Qaeda and the Taliban is available here. The resolutions, each of which is available in .pdf format and is accompanied by a summary, are organized chronologically. External links related to certain resolutions are embedded in the text.

Analytical Reports to the 1267 Committee

These reports were delivered to the 1267 Committee by the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Committee created by Resolution 1526 (2004). The reports are intended to inform the Security Council of practical, academic and policy developments related to terrorism sanctions while offering recommendations to the Security Council on how to improve upon past sanctions. They also comment on how to resolve the myriad controversies that have arisen since the Council passed Resolution 1267. These reports are highly detailed and very extensive; Global Policy Forum has provided short summaries to guide your research.

Information Package on the work of the Al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee

Al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee, established pursuant to Resolution 1267 (also known as the "1267 Committee"), has a mandate to monitor and report

Report of the Secretary General on the Humanitarian Implications of Sanctions in Afghanistan (December 18, 2001)

The report concludes that years of civil war, human rights abuses, and three years of drought are the primary causes of human suffering in Afghanistan, with UN sanctions imposed in 1999 and 2000 playing only a secondary role.

2nd Report of the Secretary General on the Situation in Afghanistan (July 13, 2001)

The report of Secretary General acknowledges that the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated while the country has been under sanctions, but it refrains from attributing blame to the sanctions.

Report of the Secretary General on the Situation in Afghanistan (April 19, 2001)

Kofi Annan warns of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, but states that UN sanctions are not responsible for the current situation.



UN Documents

UN press release on Resolution 1333,

This press release includes summaries of ambassadors' statements.


2008 |2006 |2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | Archived Articles

The current UN sanctions regime against the Taliban is ineffective: it has succeeded only in impoverishing the Afghani people and further radicalising the ruling militia. Le Monde Diplomatique advocates easing sanctions, combined with strong diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to stop aiding the regime.



Terrorism Financing Blacklist at Risk (November 2, 2008)

European countries are no longer supporting the UN Security Council blacklist for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. This is because the European Court of Justice- as well as national courts- decided that the list does not comply with international human rights standards. Because persons on the list do not have the right to see the evidence against them, they risk placement on the blacklist for political reasons. The UN charter allows neither a court nor independent experts to review the Security Council's decisions. (Washington Post)

The UN Security Council Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee: Emerging Principles of International Institutional Law for the Protection of Individuals (November 1, 2008)

The Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee freezes personal assets and applies travel bans and arms embargoes to individuals who Security Council members accuse of supporting terrorist organizations. Once these individuals are ‘blacklisted', it is very difficult to remove them from the list and lift the sanctions if they prove their innocence. This German Law Journal argues that the Council members possibly use sanctions at the international level to escape national standards of human rights protection and judicial review.


Afghanistan's Anti-Narcotics Strategy (August 29, 2006)

According to the 2005 statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the cultivation of opium in Afghanistan significantly increased, accounting for 87 percent of world production despite the Afghan government's National Drug Control Strategy. This Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies article points out that the Taliban insurgency encourages narcotic production to fund its activities. "The lucrative nature of the Afghan opium trade that links cultivators, traffickers and consumers is one of the biggest threats to effective nation-building and regional stability," the author says.


UN Report Warns of More Terrorists (September 20, 2005)

A UN report warns that Al Qaeda's operations have expanded to comprise new recruits skilled in urban warfare and suicide bombings. The report recommends that the Security Council broaden the arms embargo to keep this "third generation" of followers from obtaining military-quality materials or using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. "UN sanctions need to be updated to keep up with the changing terrorist tactics." (Associated Press)

US Seeks to Firm Up Terrorist Sanctions (July 14, 2005)

The United States has circulated a draft resolution at the United Nations that aims to make UN sanctions against al-Qaeda and the Taliban more effective. The resolution clarifies the definition of those "associated with" target groups, to try and close loopholes which permit states to avoid taking action. It would also set up a monitoring team to assess national implementation of the sanctions regime and punish offenders. Such measures could help make UN sanctions a vital and effective weapon against terrorism. (Associated Press)


Al-Qaeda Sanctions 'Ineffective' (August 27, 2004)

A UN committee says sanctions on Al-Qaeda, including asset freezing and arms control, have been ineffective. Al-Qaeda has been flexible in circumventing Security Council actions and often operates cheaply and with arms not covered by sanctions. The committee recommends reforming Security Council methods for dealing with terrorism. (BBC)

UN Dissolves Panel Monitoring Al Qaeda (February 2, 2004)

The UN Security Council has dissolved the expert panel in charge of monitoring sanctions against Al Qaeda and replaced it with a "more professional body." Michael Chandler, the former panel's chair, argues that the dismissal results from "pressure from influential UN members who had been singled out in his reports for failing to take adequate measures to combat Al Qaeda." (Washington Post)

Most UN Members Lag on Drive Against Al Qaeda (January 13, 2004)

Only 93 out the 191 UN members have filed their reports as required by the Security Council, complains the sanctions Committee on Al Qaeda/Talibans. While the Council prepares to vote on a new resolution to pressure non-complying members, France wants to renew the sanctions regime annually, whereas Washington wants the Al Qaeda sanctions to remain in place until the Council decides otherwise. (Reuters)


Al-Qaida, Taliban Money Laundering 'More Sophisticated' - UN Panel Chair (October 15, 2003)

The chairman of the Security Council sanction committee on Al-Qaida and the Taliban reports that Al-Qaida circumvents sanctions by using couriers and non-standard banking arrangements to move money. The chairman also reported strong suspicions that the Taliban exchanges drugs for cash. (UN News Centre)

Report Says UN Embargo Does Little to Halt Al Qaeda (June 20, 2003)

Travel and arms sanctions issued by the Security Council against Al Qaeda have not greatly impeded the mobility and activity of individual members. This failure highlights the difficulty of imposing sanctions against a well-established but elusive network. (Washington Post)


Bid to Stop Funds for Qaeda Hits Obstacles (August 29, 2002)

"Al Qaeda is by all accounts 'fit and well' and poised to strike again at its leisure," states the UN Panel responsible for monitoring sanctions against Al Qaeda. The report outlines the obstacles obstructing the task of blocking Al-Qaeda's funding. (Washington Post)

UN Monitors Warn of Afghan Missiles (January 24, 2002)

In a report to the Security Council, the head of the UN committee monitoring sanctions against the Taliban warns that members of al Qaeda may possess missiles capable of delivering conventional or chemical weapons. The Council has not formally responded to the report. (Washington Post)

UN Gives Green Light to Afghan Bank (January 16, 2002)

The Security Council's committee monitoring sanctions against Afghanistan removed the Da Afghanistan Bank, the country's central financial institution, from its list of groups and individuals whose assets have been ordered frozen because of links to Osama bin Laden's terrorist operation. (Associated Press)

US Plans Release of $221 Million in Afghan Assets (January 15, 2002)

The Security Council prepares to lift a flight ban on Ariana Airlines, the Afghan state airline, to accelerate the transfer of Taliban-controlled assets to the new Afghan government. (Washington Post)

Afghan Sanctions Outlive Usefulness (January 10, 2002)

With the removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Security Council is now discussing the repeal of diplomatic, economic, and travel sanctions imposed on the country two years ago. (Interpress Service)

US to Ask UN for Continuing Afghan Sanctions (January 08, 2002)

The US is calling the Security Council to update Resolution 1333 imposing sanctions against the Taliban to "reflect changes in the situation" in Afghanistan. (Washington Times)



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