Disinformation, as if sanctions imposed by organizations or countries other than the United Nations are illegal

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Reading Time: 3 minutes


On May 16, during the program of the pro-Russian organization “Solidarity for Peace”, political scientist Giorgi Iremadze stated that sanctions can be imposed legitimately only by the United Nations, and sanctions imposed by individual countries or associations like the European Union are hence, illegal.

solidaroba mshvidobisthvis Disinformation, as if sanctions imposed by organizations or countries other than the United Nations are illegal

The claim that only the UN has the legitimate right to impose sanctions is false. International law does not impose such restrictions, and according to the UN Charter, the organization has such a prerogative only when deciding on military sanctions and the use of force.

The sanctions that Iremadze is talking about belong to economic sanctions and include actions such as restrictions on trade, access to finance, and travel imposed by a country or an international organization on any state or non-state actor, including individuals. These types of sanctions can specifically include account freezes, partial or total restrictions on exports and imports, travel bans, arms embargoes, and more.

Currently, sanctions are imposed by 3 main bodies: the United Nations, the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). In addition, sanctions are most often applied by the US, which sanctions states as well as individuals. 

The UN Charter prohibits states from using force in any way except in self-defense. According to Article 42 of the Seventh Chapter of the Convention, only the Organization’s Security Council has the right to decide on the use of military force against any country, and that too in extreme cases. However, states and organizations similar to the European Union are not subject to similar restrictions in the case of imposing economic or diplomatic sanctions – such a thing is not written in the statute. On the contrary, the seventh chapter envisages the possibility of imposing collective sanctions against states or non-state actors, which is actively applied by the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, and other organizations.

Sanctions imposed by a specific state are called unilateral sanctions, and there is no rule in international law that prohibits it. The document “Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts,” which was issued in 2001 under the mandate of the UN General Assembly, defines sanctions as “collective coercive measures decided to be implemented by an international organization or a group of states”. However, despite this definition, the document does not reject unilateral sanctions and instead refers to the words – retortions and countermeasures – actions that the state can use. These may be economic, cultural, diplomatic, or military measures that do not involve any threat or use of force. 

There is some ambiguity regarding unilateral extra-territorial sanctions. In such a situation, a specific country prohibits third-country nationals and companies from trading and various types of relations with the sanctioned country. For example, the USA has a similar policy against Iran and penalizes companies and individuals that do business with Iran. According to various research papers, third-party sanctioning cannot be justified by existing legal norms, although this action is not contrary to them, therefore, they are neither completely legal nor illegal, which is why it is necessary to adopt new norms and regulate similar practices.

About the Source:

Giorgi Iremadze mainly spreads anti-Western and pro-Russian narratives. He is actively involved in the disinformation campaign against the Lugar laboratory and also attends various events held in Moscow. Iremadze is the founder of the pro-Russian organization “Union of Young Eurasians” and “Patrioti TV“, which represents openly pro-Russian media.

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Violation: Disinformation
Country: European Union, UN

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