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Legal Guide

Canada implements various international economic sanctions in an effort to bring about a change in behaviour of specific states or individuals. Canada principally implements these sanctions through two acts: the United Nations Act and the Special Economic Measures Act.

The United Nations Act is the legislative vehicle by which Canada gives effect to decisions passed by the United Nations Security Council. Canada implements its specific United Nations (UN) obligations into Canadian law by passing regulations pursuant to this Act. For the most part, the sanctions implemented are directed towards specific countries, and may establish an embargo against certain goods or impose an asset freeze. There are currently a number of countries against which Canada has imposed certain measures. These measures also impose restrictions against engaging in enumerated activities with designated persons. Further, following September 11, 2001, the UN implemented a resolution directed specifically at identified individuals. The United Nations Suppression of Terrorism Regulations place a freeze on the dealing of property with listed persons, and impose an ongoing duty on Canadian financial institutions to determine and report monthly whether they are in possession or control of the property of a listed person.

The Special Economic Measures Act (“SEMA”) authorizes the Canadian Government to impose sanctions on foreign states, either of its own accord or as a result of an obligation undertaken in an international organization other than the UN (for example, NATO). The sanctions imposed by SEMA can be very far reaching and go beyond merely the control of imports and exports. Currently, there are comprehensive restrictions in place in regard to Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran and Syria.

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