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International sanctions – some ins and outs

As a globally geared institution, many of the University’s activities involve collaboration with people and entities overseas.

Anyone engaging in activities with an international connection should be aware that various international sanctions may affect those activities.

Sanctions law in Australia

Australia implements 21 sanctions regimes, comprised of multilateral sanctions agreed by the United Nations Security Council and autonomous sanctions determined by the Australian Government.

Sanctions impose restrictions on dealings with certain nations, entities or individuals, as an economic or diplomatic means of discouraging objectionable actions, such as the abuse of human rights or the promotion of organised terrorism. There are a number of ways sanctions can be implemented but usually they involve restrictions on transactions, people or trade in and out of the country.

Individuals can face a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and/or significant fines of $500k for breaching a sanction. The University could also be subject to a fine of over $2M.

The Foreign Minister can issue a permit if a sanctioned activity is demonstrably in the national interest.

How do sanction laws affect university activities?

Universities are highly connected in the international community, so there is always a potential for interaction with nations, entities or individuals subject to restrictions under sanctions.

This may include ordinary operational activities such as:

  • Accepting tuition fees from individuals and entities that are subject to targeted financial sanctions or travel bans
  • Providing technical training or advice to individuals from a sanctioned country in prohibited areas of technical skill, and which may include computer programing
  • Scientific research that may advance military capability, including through the development of biological agents or weapons of mass destruction. Consideration should also be given to prohibitions under the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 which affect trade in some “dual use” technologies, such as sensing equipment, lasers, and high grade protection materials.
  • Collaborative projects or exchanges involving international universities that are not subject to the same sanction regimes as apply to Australia
  • Transfer of funds or equipment, or intangible assets such as intellectual property

University activities involving overseas funders or partners may be further impacted by the autonomous sanctions regimes imposed by their national governments. You should check to see if your agreement could impose sanction restrictions in addition to those already applied by the UN or Australia.

The level of vigilance applied to manage the risk should reflect the level of international engagement activity.

Inform yourself

You can search for specific entities and individuals on the consolidated list available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website or get more detail on the scope of sanction regimes that apply to various countries.

For more information about sanctions regimes and how they impact on your area, check out the following resources:

Who can I contact for advice?

There are a number of areas of the University who have expertise about international sanctions. Contact one of the following areas if you need further advice about the impact of sanctions on a person, activity or project:

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