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Copyright (c) 2010 New York University Journal of International Law and Politics
New York University Journal of International Law and Politics

NOTE: IMPROVING THE TERRORIST FINANCE SANCTIONS PROCESS

Winter, 2010

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AND POLITICS

42 N.Y.U. J. Int'l L. & Pol. 549

Author

Robert E. O'Leary*

Excerpt



I. Introduction
 
As part of the global effort to combat terrorism, the United States Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) administers an economic sanctions program targeting terrorists. This sanctions regime gives OFAC the power to indefinitely freeze all of a legal person's assets and publicly list it as a financier of terrorism. OFAC uses this tool broadly, sanctioning numerous individuals, banks, companies, and charitable organizations worldwide. 1 OFAC terrorist sanctions are a relatively new phenomenon, 2 and the effectiveness and accuracy of their use are debatable. Yet, they are extremely important on an international scale. The United States leads the global front in this important area of national security: its sanction decisions are largely adopted by the United Nations, which in turn makes them binding upon all signatory nations. Under the current regime, OFAC exercises unilateral discretion in its designation and asset-blocking actions and affords designated entities minimal due process. This Note proposes two measures designed to increase institutional flexibility and enhance the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Department of Treasury's OFAC sanctions.

First, OFAC should adopt a three-tiered system for sanctioning terrorist financiers. Currently, OFAC offers no institutional flexibility, using only one all-or-nothing sanction tool regardless of the nature of the violation. Indeed, it offers a cliff: entities that OFAC investigates are either labeled "Specially Designated Global Terrorists," with all of their assets indefinitely frozen, or they are not listed at all and no action is taken whatsoever. ...
 
 
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