Enforcing UN Sanctions by Maritime Interdiction: Historical Overview and Legal Basis

Document Type : Original Article


Assistant Professor, Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law and Political Science, University of Tehran


In rare if important instances since the end of the cold war, the United Nations Security Council has resorted to maritime enforcement of its economic sanctions whereby Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, are authorized to conduct maritime interdiction operations against foreign-flagged vessels suspected of carrying sanctioned cargo. This paper aims to provide a historical overview of such UN-mandated maritime embargoes so as to examine the Security Council’s evolving policy on the maritime enforcement of its sanctions.  Furthermore, in light of the legal constraints that the international law of the sea places on non-flag state interference with merchant shipping, the paper will also analyze the legal basis upon which the Security Council authorizes such embargoes in order to evaluate its legal and policy implications.


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