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Libya Sanctions Redux - Qadhafi on the Outs Again


In response to the increasingly violent situation in Libya, in the past few days the United States, the United Nations Security Council, and the European Union have successively announced targeted sanctions against Libya and senior members of the Libyan government aimed at freezing the regime's assets and limiting access to weapons.

U.S. Sanctions

On Friday, February 25, President Obama signed an as-yet unnumbered Executive Order declaring a national emergency to deal with the "unusual and extraordinary threat" to U.S. interests created by the Libyan government's "wanton violence against unarmed civilians."  The Executive Order imposes blocking sanctions on all transactions involving assets within U.S. jurisdiction of the "Government of Libya, its agencies, instrumentalities, and controlled entities, and the Central Bank of Libya," and sanctions the personal assets of Colonel Qadhafi, four of his children, and other entities that may be determined to meet certain enumerated criteria.  The Executive Order also prohibits making any "contribution or provision of funds, goods or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person" whose interests are blocked as well as the receipt of funds from any such person.

Concurrent with the issuance of the Executive Order, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a tersely-worded General License authorizing all transactions "with financial institutions owned or controlled by the Government of Libya that are organized under the laws of a country other than Libya."  Subsequently, on February 26, the Department of State's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls suspended all licenses previously issued under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations for exports to Libya.

UN Sanctions

On Saturday, February 26, the UN Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 1970, which imposes multilateral sanctions on the Qadhafi regime.  The sanctions include a total arms embargo, as well as a travel ban and asset freeze on six members of the Qadhafi family, entities "owned or controlled by them," and any other individuals "involved in or complicit in ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission of serious human rights abuses against persons in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya."  The travel ban and asset freeze provisions exempt certain activities from the sanctions, such as those preapproved by the UNSC or for demonstrated humanitarian need.

EU Sanctions

Today, Monday, February 28, the Council of the European Union took steps to implement the UNSC Resolution by adopting a general ban on the supply of arms, issuing a visa ban, and ordering the freezing of assets of members of the Qadhafi family and certain senior government officials.  Unilaterally, the Council of the EU also prohibited trade with Libya in equipment that can be used for internal repression.  The text of the decision is not yet available but is expected to be published in the Official Journal of the EU in the coming days.

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Jeffrey L. Snyder
Partner – Washington, D.C., Brussels
Phone: +1 202.624.2790, +

David (Dj) Wolff
Counsel – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202.624.2548