On 18 December 2020, the Norwegian Government submitted a proposition for a new act on the implementation of international sanctions ("the Sanctions Act"), see Proposition 69 L (2020-2021). This new Sanctions Act will replace two enabling acts from 1968 and 2001 that authorises the Norwegian Government to make sanctions regulations to implement the internationally binding UN sanctions and the EU restrictive measures endorsed by Norway following a political assessment.

In addition, the Government proposes that three special regulations concerning sanctions related to Iran, Yugoslavia and Zimbabwe, as well as the Act of prohibition against freight of arms etc. from 1937, are repealed.

The Sanctions Act maintains the main features of the current enabling acts, but also contains a key expansion of the Norwegian Government's authority. Under the new act, the Government will have authority to implement sanctions against individuals, organisations and entities that are responsible for or involved in activities that violates fundamental international norms, without being affiliated with a specific state or regime. This broadened authority will give legal basis for Norway to implement the EU's sanctions regimes related to human rights violations, cyber-attacks and proliferation of chemical weapons. Norway has politically endorsed these sanction regimes, but the current enabling acts do not contain necessary legal authority for the Government to implement these measures in Norwegian legislation. This will all change if the new Sanctions Act is adopted.

Since adoption of the enabling acts in Norway, there has been a clear shift in the UN and EU towards applying more targeted sanctions; focusing on individuals or companies involved in a particular type of problem/activity rather than extensive nationwide sanctions. These more 'thematic sanctions' can be flexibly applied to offenders from any country in the world. There is also a growing use of sanctions as an instrument for ensuring respect for democracy, the constitutional state and human rights. One example is the new sanctions regime against serious human rights abuses adopted by the EU on 7 December 2020.

The proposed new Sanctions Act contains requirements for case management to strengthen the legal safeguards of designated individuals and ensure due process. For example, it is proposed to include administrative right of appeal for listed persons.

The act also expands the Norwegian sanctions legislation's geographic scope to include Svalbard and Jan Mayen.

The new act will not provide the Norwegian Government with authority to adopt sanctions on its own (so-called unilateral sanctions) or together with only a few other countries. It still is the policy of the Norwegian Government that sanctions are more effective and should only be implemented if they have been adopted by intergovernmental organisations (in practice the UN or the EU) or that have broad support among like-minded countries.

The act will now be discussed by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.

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