Success for Switzerland in the UN Security Council

Bern, Press release, 17.12.2009

On 17 December 2009, the United Nations Security Council decided to create the Office of an Ombudsperson as a contact point for persons affected by the anti-terror sanctions of the UN Security Council. This decision is largely to be attributed to an initiative by Switzerland, which for several years has demanded improved rights for persons affected by these sanctions.

Since 1999, on the basis of Resolution 1267 and various follow-up resolutions, the UN Security Council has imposed a number of obligations on UN member states in the fight against terrorism. These include targeted financial sanctions, travel restrictions as well as an arms embargo arms against both natural persons and legal entities suspected of being associated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Currently, the names of about 500 natural persons and legal entities appear on the list of this sanctions regime. 

To date, however, there has not been a sufficiently fair de-listing procedure. In particular, there has been no mechanism for affected persons to apply to have their listing reviewed by an independent and impartial body. Switzerland has pointed out this shortcoming from the beginning and, in summer 2005, together with a coalition of like-minded countries launched an initiative to improve the sanctions procedure, in particular with a view to taking more into consideration the rights of affected persons. In summer 2008, it submitted a concrete proposal to the Security Council to set up an independent review body. Since then, a number of national and regional courts and parliaments have also criticised this lack of protection of individual rights.  

The Security Council has now responded to the demand of Switzerland and other like-minded countries for a fairer procedure. The new resolution stipulates that persons whose names have been included on the list of the sanctions regime against Al Qaeda and the Taliban have the right to be informed about the reasons of the court sanctions against them as well as the right to appeal to the Ombudsperson to be delisted. The Ombudsperson examines the case independently and impartially and submits to the Sanctions Committee of the Security Council the reasons for or against removing the name of the person concerned from the sanctions list. In addition, the resolution stipulates that it is the responsibility of the UN Secretary-General to appoint an eminent individual of high moral character, impartiality and integrity to be Ombudsperson.  

Switzerland welcomes this improvement to the existing procedure. As a result, the rights of individuals will be taken into account at the international level and the legitimacy of the United Nations system of sanctions will be strengthened. Switzerland will closely follow the implementation of the new resolution.

For questions: Ambassador Jürg Lindenmann, Deputy-Director of the FDFA Directorate of Public International Law, Tel. +41 31 324 55 99 or +41 79 456 48 27 

Further information:

Link to FDFA website (incl. the new UN Security Council resolution as a download)

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
Fax: (+41) 031 324 90 47


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs