Structure of sanctions legislation
Generally, sanctions are effective only if they are enforced by as many countries as possible. This is why sanctions are often imposed by the United Nations (UN) or the European Union (EU).
Sanctions legislation takes the form of regulations, common positions or instructions and can be imposed by the UN Security Council, the EU or national governments. The EU seeks to transpose sanctions imposed by the UN into European legislation promptly.
EU regulations have direct effect in the Dutch legal system. As soon as these regulations have been published in the Official Journal, the sanctions provided for in them take immediate effect. The regulations specify the sanction or sanctions imposed, their purpose and the affected countries, areas, persons or entities.
Application in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, the Sanctions Act 1977 (Sanctiewet 1977) constitutes the basis for the elaboration of national and international rules in implementation of international sanctions. The Sanctions Act is a framework act permitting general administrative orders to be issued in compliance with treaties or international agreements. If a sanction has been imposed in the form of an EU regulation, no substantive elaboration is required at national level. The Minister of Foreign Affairs nevertheless issues ministerial regulations prohibiting violations of EU regulations, as this allows for criminal action against offenders. Diverging from the EU, the Netherlands may also independently designate natural persons or legal entities and order their assets to be frozen or the provision of financial services on their behalf to be prohibited or restricted. Examples include the Sanctions Regulations on Terrorism 2007 and 2007-II (Sanctieregelingen terrorisme 2007 en 2007-II).
Once an EU regulation or a national sanctions regulation has been imposed, it must be observed by all natural persons and legal entities resident in the Netherlands. This also applies to international corporations having an establishment in the Netherlands. Violation of sanctions legislation constitutes an economic offence and is liable to criminal prosecution.