End of Ivory Coast Sanctions

On September 14th, President Obama issued an Executive Order titled, “Termination of Emergency with Respect to the Situation in or in Relation to Cote d’Ivoire,” with respect to the situation in or in relation to Cote d’Ivoire or the Ivory Coast. This represents an official end to the Ivory Coast or Cote d’Ivoire Sanctions Program that has been implemented by the Office of Foreign Assets Controls since February 7, 2006, based on the issuance of the Executive Order 13396.

Background on the Ivory Coast Sanctions Program

The Cote d’Ivoire Sanctions Program originated from President George W. Bush’s Executive Order 13396 declaring a national emergency to address the situation in or in relation to the Cote d’Ivoire, regarding the massacre of many civilians, widespread abuses of human rights, political violence and instability, and attacks by elements within the country against international peace-keeping forces that resulted in fatalities.

The Ivory Coast Sanctions Program blocked property and property interests of certain people and organizations as well as entities that are 50 percent or more, in the aggregate, controlled or owned by blocked persons or entities. Specifically, the Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the Secretary of State, were to determine specific individuals that were constituting a threat to the peace and reconciliation process in the Ivory Coast to be responsible for international law violations.

This included the supply, sale, or transfer of arms or related material, or advice, assistance, or training regarding military activities, inciting public violence and hatred that had some contribution to the underlying conflict, materially assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial material or technical support for activities that have been described herein or as stated before, entities that were owned or controlled by these individuals, and entities that were named.

As such, the Ivory Coast Sanctions Program was called a Smart Sanctions Program. It targeted specific individuals and required companies in the United States to screen all parties involved in transactions to make sure that none of the names of the parties involved, including intermediaries and third party service providers, were on the SDN list or were owned or controlled by parties on the SDN list.

There were some general licenses available under this program, but for the large part, it was focusing on entities and individuals the United States government deemed to be a threat to United States’ Foreign Policy, National Security, and Economic Policy.

However, in his executive order, on determination of the national emergency in Ivory Coast, President Obama says, “I…find that the situation that gave rise to the declaration of a national emergency with respect to the situation in or in relation to Cote d’Ivoire, including the massacre of large numbers of civilians, widespread human rights abuses, significant political violence in unrest, and attacks against international peacekeeping forces leading to fatalities has been significantly altered by the progress achieved in the stabilization of Cote d’Ivoire, including the successful conduct of the October 2015 presidential election, progress on the management of arms and related material, and the combating of an illicit trafficking of natural resources. Accordingly…I hereby terminate the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13396.

The ending of the Ivory Coast Sanctions is a good example showing how the alteration of Economic Sanctions can be brought about by progress and developments that the United States government sees as beneficial.

This is why it is so important that Sanctions Counsel, as well as Internal Compliance Divisions, are keeping a close watch on important political developments in the areas where the underlying sanctions are taking place, so that they can understand or predict, generally speaking, the way that the sanctions may be changing, relaxing, or being revoked following the requisite changes in circumstances.

Accordingly, on the same day that the president issued this Executive Order, a number of deletions were made to the specially designated nationals and blocked person’s list, including nine names and pursuant to the 50 percent rule, all of the entities under control by 50% or more by these individuals.

If you have questions about the Ivory Coast Sanctions Program, what the change of this program may mean for your company, or the proper way to adjust your screening technique in a way that it is not exposing you to sanctions’ liability, feel free to call us for a free consultation.

This blog is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.