Sanctions on Syria


Foreign Affairs

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the continued imposition of sanctions on Syria in particular their utility in forcing regime change in that country.
– Clare Daly.

On the 9th of May 2011 the EU agreed to impose restrictive measures, or sanctions, on members of the Syrian regime in order to put pressure on them to end the violent repression of the civilian population in Syria.

Targeted EU sanctions are in place against over 250 people and almost 70 entities which are complicit in the violent repression of the civilian population in Syria. The first person on this list is Bashar Al Assad, whose forces have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

The sanctions also include an oil embargo, restrictions on investments, a freeze of Syrian Central Bank assets and export restrictions on equipment and technology that might be used for internal repression, or for interception of internet or telephone communications. There are no sanctions on food, medicines or most other civilian goods.

The EU’s Syria sanctions include exemptions for essential civilian needs and humanitarian assistance. The EU keeps the impact of sanctions under constant review, and will consider options to mitigate any unintended consequences which can be documented as relating directly to the measures themselves, as distinct from the more general economic disruption caused by the conflict and the Assad regime’s actions.

Ireland has consistently supported EU sanctions targeting the Assad regime and its supporters, and will continue to do so as long as the situation on the ground justifies these measures. To lift these sanctions would amount to tacit support for the Assad regime and would serve to encourage further impunity with regard to attacks on civilians, and disregard for the UN-led peace process.

There are indeed numerous barriers to humanitarian access in Syria, but these are as a result of actions by the parties to the conflict, particularly the Assad regime. I am aware of the challenges faced by NGOs operating in Syria, but I am confident that EU sanctions do not prohibit the delivery of aid.


To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a review of the effectiveness and utility of economic sanctions placed on other states as a tool of coercive diplomacy is underway or planned by his department.
– Clare Daly.
For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 13th December, 2017.

Restrictive measures, also referred to as ‘sanctions’, are legally binding measures which may be taken against individuals, entities or countries. Such measures can cover a variety of elements including financial services (e.g. asset freezes), immigration (visa and travel bans) and trade (e.g. export restrictions).
The objective in adopting sanctions is to bring about a change in policy and/ or behaviour by the target of the measures. For example sanctions may be applied in response to repression, human rights abuses or violations of international law. As such, sanctions are an important foreign policy tool and a part of an integrated and comprehensive approach to the pursuit of foreign policy objectives including safeguarding security and preserving peace, conflict prevention, and the support of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and international law.
Sanctions adopted by the United Nations Security Council are binding on all United Nations Member States. They are subject to EU measures in order to ensure their consistent implementation throughout the EU. The EU may also adopt its own sanctions, known as autonomous EU measures, as a tool of its Common Foreign and Security Policy.
These sanctions are targeted to minimise the consequences for those not responsible for the actions that have triggered them, e.g. the local civilian population. For example, economic sanctions often take the form of asset freezes for targeted individuals rather than blanket economic restrictions on a country. A key principle of EU sanctions is that they must respect fundamental human rights and fundamental freedoms, with a particular emphasis on the right to due process. In addition, where appropriate, EU sanctions regimes include exemptions and derogations to ensure mitigation of any unintended humanitarian consequences.
Restrictive measures in force are kept under constant review to ensure that they continue to contribute towards achieving their stated objectives. Ireland engages fully in this process at EU level.