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  • Writer's pictureInternational Lawyers Project

Impact Research on Magnitsky Style Sanctions

A copy of the printed report


Targeted sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, are increasingly imposed worldwide in response to alleged corruption. The US Global Magnitsky Act, which entered into force in December 2016, is the first statute to authorise such sanctions where there are significant allegations of corruption.

In the first 5 years since the enaction of the Act, there have been around 450 designations for human rights and corruption abuses. However, the types of impact and effectiveness of this anti-corruption tool have not been well documented, captured or analysed. Proper documentation and analysis was therefore needed to support greater effectiveness of the tool, as well as build a realistic view of achievements in the fight against corruption.

ILP’s Action

ILP, in partnership with Anton Moiseienko from the Australian National University, conducted an empirical study of the first 20 individuals designated for alleged corruption under the US Global Magnitsky Act, divided into 18 case studies. The research is the first of its kind in providing findings and recommendations via a unique methodology that will add to policymakers’ understanding of what Magnitsky-style corruption sanctions are able to achieve. Notable conclusions from the study included that freezing of assets is the most widespread effect of sanctions in the designations analysed, but that their enforcement relies on the availability of information about the targeted individual’s corporate network. In addition, more than a third of the case studies analysed involved subsequent sanctions designations by other countries, in all instances the UK. This is significantly higher than the overall proportion of multilateral Global Magnitsky designations.


ILP’s impact research report was disseminated and discussed with stakeholders around the world involved in the use of sanctions, including policy makers, sanctions officials, civil society and academia, particularly in the US, UK and Australia. The report has received overwhelmingly positive feedback in its utility, insights, findings and recommendations, including on the forms of impact that sanctions can have, as well as how sanctions tools can be improved. ILP has since received several requests to undertake more research on other sanctions regimes using its unique methodology. ILP will continue to engage in legal research in this area given the expressed needs from, and clear benefit it can offer to, our partners.


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