On October 18, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released the 2021 Sanctions Review (“the Review”), which delineates Treasury’s framework for employing economic sanctions and provides key recommendations on modernizing the U.S. sanctions regime to ensure sanctions remain effective.1 The Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, requested the Review to ensure that sanctions remain an effective tool for promoting U.S. national security interests by reviewing the Treasury Department’s strategic, operational, and procedural approach to sanctions implementation and making key recommendations on their use. During the review process, Treasury interviewed hundreds of stakeholders, to include U.S. interagency partners, foreign governments, members of Congress, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and academics, generating major anticipation on the Review and its findings.
Key Takeaways from the 2021 Sanctions Review
The Review outlines steps to modernize the use of U.S. economic sanctions and ensure that sanctions remain an effective policy tool. One key step includes establishing a broad policy framework to ensure that Treasury applies sanctions consistently and judiciously. Among other things, the framework seeks to assess whether sanctions are the best policy tool to address a given issue, whether sanctions have been calibrated to minimize unintended impacts, and whether sanctions are easily understood, enforceable, and reversible, if the sanctions target changes its behavior.
To modernize the use of sanctions, Treasury has indicated that it will prioritize the following steps:
Challenges and Considerations for the Private Sector
1 U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2021 Sanctions Review, https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Treasury-2021-sanctions-review.pdf
2 “U.S., EU, Canada and Britain announce sanctions on China over the abuse of Uyghurs,” The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/xinjiang-sanctions-european-union/2021/03/22/1b0d69aa-8b0a-11eb-a33e-da28941cb9ac_story.html
3 U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Guidance Related to the Provision of Humanitarian Assistance by Not-For-Profit Non-Governmental Organizations. https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/126/ngo_humanitarian.pdf
4 Remarks by Deputy Secretary Adeyemo, “The Future of U.S. Sanctions Policy with Wally Adeyemo and Jack Lew,” Center for a New American Security, October 21, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvjhNK8PXpQ. Remarks beginning at 51:15.
5 “Using Sanctions Screening and List Management to Support a Stable Sanctions Compliance Framework,” K2 Integrity, https://www.k2integrity.com/en/knowledge/expert-insights/2021/using-sanctions-screening-and-list-management-to-support-a-stable-sanctions-compliance-framework