Iraq and Syria: Sanctions against extremist groups


Published: 22 August 2014

On 15 August 2014, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 2170 (2014) condemning gross, widespread abuse of human rights by extremist groups in Iraq and Syria.

The Resolution names a number of individuals linked to extremist groups and is another step on the widespread national and regional restrictions in place against individuals and organisations with links to terrorism. However the Resolution also targets the ability of such groups to obtain financial benefit from oilfields and related infrastructure under their control.

This follows on from a UNSC Statement on 28 July 2014 which "stresses the obligation of the Member States to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts, and expresses grave concern over the reports of the access to and seizure of oilfields and pipelines in Syria and Iraq by terrorist groups listed by the Security Council 1267/1989 Committee, namely 'Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant' and 'Jabhat Al-Nusra', and underscores in this regard that any trade of oil with these entities would be inconsistent with the Council's resolutions and that all States are required to ensure that their nationals and any persons within their territory do not trade in oil with these entities."

This is a clear signal to states to implement legislation which will tighten up on any dealings with oil originating in areas under the control of groups such as ISIL.

Even in the absence of further restrictive measures, members should exercise considerable caution. There are already restrictions in place against many individuals and organisations (including Jabhat Al-Nusrah) which stand to gain financially, directly or indirectly, from trade in oil from areas under the control of ISIL and similar groups. Any dealings with such oil run a significant risk of being in breach of existing sanctions regulations. The risk is likely to increase as states focus on further measures to prevent ISIL and related organisations from benefiting from oil in the areas now under their control.