Statement from Lord Neuberger and Amal Clooney on the UK global human rights sanctions regime

Wednesday 8 July 2020

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The names of those pictured appear below.

On 6 July 2020, Amal Clooney, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers and Deputy Chair of the the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, released a joint statement with Panel Chair, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, in response to the implementation of the United Kingdom’s global human rights sanctions regime. The full statement appears below.


We welcome the announcement by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office that the UK’s global human rights sanctions regime is now operational and that the first targets have been designated. As we stated in our report on sanctions published in February 2020, targeted sanctions against individuals are one of the most valuable tools available to states to impose accountability for human rights abuses and enforce international norms.

That is why we have encouraged the UK to implement its system of global human rights sanctions, and we welcome the step that the Government has taken today to advance this programme. We hope that others will adopt a similar regime, including the European Union and Australia, whose Parliament we recently addressed on this issue.

We also welcome the government’s statement that it seeks to ‘champion human rights’ and that designations under the sanctions regime will be guided by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s ‘human rights priorities,’ including ‘media freedom’ and the ‘protection of human rights defenders’ and journalists. We note, however, that the bases for designations that have been announced today are not as broad as they could be under the Sanctions Act. We hope that in the near future the scope of the regime will be broadened in line with our recommendations, and that additional designations will be announced to respond to serious abuses of human rights being perpetrated around the world.


Notes to the Editor

  1. The statement follows a report published by the Panel in February 2020, titled The Use of Targeted Sanctions to Protect Journalists.
  2. Members of the High Level Panel

    Seated left to right:

    • Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, IBAHRI Director
    • Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom
    • Ms Amal Clooney, Barrister Doughty Street Chambers, Deputy Chair of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom and UK Special Envoy on Media Freedom
    • Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, UK Minister for Human Rights (not a member of the High Level Panel)
    • Baroness Francoise Tulkens, Former Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights

    Standing left to right:

    • Professor Kyung-Sin Park, Korea University School of Law and a co-founder and Director of Open Net Korea
    • Ms Galina Arapova, Director and senior media lawyer at Mass Media Defence Centre in Russia
    • Professor Dario Milo, Partner Webber Wentzel and Adjunct Professor University of the Witwatersrand
    • Professor Can Yeginsu, Barrister 4 New Square Chambers, Professor Columbia Law School, Georgetown Law and Koç University Law School
    • Ms Catherine Anite, human rights lawyer and the Founding Director of the Freedom of Expression Hub in Uganda
    • Mr Nadim Houry, lawyer and Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative
    • The Honourable Irwin Cotler, PC, OC, OQ, Former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada and Professor of Law at McGill University
    • Judge Robert D Sack, senior judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Professor Columbia Law School

  3. The High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom is an independent body convened at the request of the UK and Canadian governments to advise governments on ways to prevent and reverse abuses of media freedom, as well as ensuring existing international obligations relating to freedom of expression are upheld. It is comprised of a diverse group of leading lawyers from around the world. The Chair is Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, former President of the UK Supreme Court, and the Deputy Chair is Amal Clooney, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers and the UK’s Special Envoy on Media Freedom. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) acts as Secretariat to the High Level Panel.
  4. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
  5. Follow the IBAHRI on Twitter here: twitter.com/IBAHRI

For further information please contact:

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