Ban on individual travel

Currently, all UN sanctions regimes include a travel ban. An individual under a UN travel ban is restricted from international travel, except return trip to his/her country of nationality or legal residence.


The purpose for the application of a UN travel ban in the context of WMD proliferation sanctions includes:

– Preventing an individual from engaging in the procurement of embargoed goods;

– Undermining and diminishing the target’s ability to smuggle embargoed goods;

– Undermining and diminishing the target’s leadership abilities;

– Preventing a targeted individual from engaging in negotiations with like-minded combatants;

– Preventing a targeted individual from raising funds or engaging in commercial activities that further proliferation;

– Singling out and ostracizing targeted individuals to undermine prestige and privilege of the targeted individual.

Visa-issuing agencies of states have a pivotal role in the implementation of travel bans. In many cases they are aware who among those under a travel ban are already entitled to enter into their country, or is applying to do so. Denial or withdrawal of entry visas could prevent illegal travel.

In other words, the effective implementation of a UN travel ban is a matter of accurately communicating sanctions-relevant information to the front line, i.e., Customs and Immigration agents, booking and sales agents of travel agencies, airlines, shipping companies, train, bus and car rental services. Failures are frequent, usually because of insufficient attention to the following factors:

–     Incomplete identifying information, for example, lack of passport numbers;

–     Misspellings of names or other errors in identifying data for an individual to which a UN

travel ban is applied;

  • Honest mistakes and oversights;
  • Lack of communication between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the principal national implementation coordinator for UN sanctions and the border control agents;
  • Lack of information flow from Ministry of Foreign Affairs to border and immigration control agency to transportation companies;
  • Lack of training that leaves a border control agent without clear instructions about his/her sanctions implementation obligations;
  • Bribes to corrupt border control agents or sales clerks of travel companies;
  • Deliberate flouting of UN sanctions by government or transportation company; and
  • Circumvention of official border crossings.