United Nations Security Council
Since the end of the Second World War, multilateral sanctions regimes have been the province of the UN Security Council (the “Council”). Under Article 39 of the UN Charter, the Council may “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” and thereupon “make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken to maintain or restore international peace and security.” Article 41 of the Charter advances Article 39 determinations by allowing the Council to “decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions,” and to “call upon the members of the United Nations to apply such measures.”
The Council consists of five permanent members (the United States, the UK, France, the Russian Federation and China) and 10 non-permanent members (including India). Decisions of the Council on all matters (other than procedural matters) must be made by an affirmative vote of nine members, including the concurring votes of all permanent members.
On February 25, the Council brought to a vote a draft resolution prepared by the United States and Albania, and co-sponsored by 81 other nations, which condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, describing it as a breach of international peace and security. Eleven Council members voted in favor of the resolution, with three members abstaining (India, China and the UAE). The resolution was vetoed by the Russian Federation, which effectively ends any prospect of unified multilateral sanctions against Russia as a result of its aggression against Ukraine.