Sectoral implementation system

Once a state has adopted primary legislation and appointed a national coordinator to implement UN sanctions, additional practical steps have to be taken to engage various state agencies. Depending on the specific sanctions measures, these intra-state implementation partners typically include:

  • Export licensing authorities
  • Customs control
  • Immigration police/visa-issuing section
  • Administrators of free ports and tax-free zones
  • Civil aviation authorities
  • Ministries of Justice
  • Ministry of Defense
  • Ministry of Trade
  • Internal and external security
  • Police
  • Banking oversight authority
  • Business licensing authority (for manufacturers of defense equipment)
  • Transportation industry oversight (sea, air, land)
  • Licensing authority for customs brokers
  • Licensing authority for pre-shipment inspectors
  • Others

Each of these agencies should develop intra-state implementation models, typologies and characteristics for sanctions violations and violators. The following lists of observed behaviors serve illustrative purposes but should not be taken individually as an indication of a violation. A combination of several indicators should be considered a red flag and prompt more intense reviews and background checks:

Transactional issues


  • Offers and terms of payment are inconsistent with observed norms;
  • Purchaser’s eagerness to acquire products despite unfamiliarity with the products’ properties;
  • Purchaser’s refusal to accept standard post-sale services, such as installation, maintenance, or training;
  • Inquiries that lack specific delivery dates;
  • Inconsistency between the technical properties of the items of interest and the technical capacities of the country of destination;
  • Inconsistencies between physical dimension and weight of packaging with dimensions and weight of goods purported to be shipped, and with actual dimensions and weight of items in container;
  • Consignment of embargoed items shipped for “evaluation”, “diagnosis”, or “repair”, thereby avoiding documents indicating a sale or other form of change of ownership;
  • Mismatches in transaction documents, for example comparing Harmonized System Codes with actually shipped items, information contained on other trade documentation, such as invoices, customs declarations, safety and health disclosure forms, or pre-shipping inspection reports or end-use certification, letter of credits, and other bank statements or receipts.

Identity and behavior of participants

  • Authenticity of identification documents of travelers, exporters/importers is in question;
  • Confusing and untrue information concerning purpose of travel;
  • Concealing affiliations with governments, organizations, or business entities;
  • Use of code words in communication between consignor-consignee, ship or airline captain, or brokers;
  • Purchasers or applicants have little or no relevant business background;
  • Use of post-office box addresses by purchaser, buyer or any other participants.
  • Reluctance by the customer to share information on end-use and end-user of the items proposed for export or transit;
  • Inconsistency between the intended export (or transit) inquiries and the applicant’s regular business activities;
  • Transfer of ships and airplanes to single-vessel ownership.

Transport characteristics

  • Trading or transportation companies named as consignees;
  • Use of unusual transportation routes for export; unusually remote destinations;
  • Concealing embargoed items in shipments of bulk commodities;
  • Temporary switching off of the Automated Identification System (AIM) of a maritime vessel, concealing its whereabouts;
  • False list of ports of call;
  • False pre-stowage plan for cargo.