Since becoming a member of the UN, Switzerland has been obliged under international law to implement non-military coercive measures decreed by the UN Security Council. The coercive measures for the enforcement of UN (United Nations), OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) or EU sanctions are laid down in the form of Federal Council ordinances and are based on the Federal Act on the Application of International Sanctions (Embargo Act; 946.231).
In the context of sanctions, where there are lists of persons, organizations and groups affected by sanction measures, these lists of names are normally taken over as an annex to the Federal Council ordinance in question. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (seco) within the Federal Department of Economic Affairs is the authority responsible for implementing such ordinances.
Financial intermediaries have a duty to keep themselves informed of the sanctions that are in force and to implement the coercive measures and reporting obligations without delay.
At present, there are sanctions in place against persons and organizations with links to Osama bin Laden, Al Qaida or the Taliban, the Republic of Iraq, Yugoslavia, Liberia, Myanmar (Burma), Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Côte d'Ivoire, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The sanctions against Sierra Leone do not include financial sanctions, however.
Measures in the context of combating terrorist financing
1. UN Security Council resolutions and the UN list of names
As long ago as October 1999, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1267 imposing economic sanctions against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan because it was permitting terrorist activities. This resolution has since been modified several times. Today the sanctions are no long directed against the Taliban as a group or against Afghanistan, but against certain natural persons and legal entities and groups with links to Osama bin Laden, Al Qaida or the Taliban. These were placed on a list of names by a decision of the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council. UN member states are obliged to enforce sanctions against these persons and groups.
In September 2001, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1373, a comprehensive anti-terrorism resolution which obliges countries to apply certain measures, including freezing assets. This resolution is not directed against any particular regime, but against terrorism in general. Every country is free to compile its own lists. Other countries act on these national lists of names on a voluntary basis.
2. Bush lists
The United States dispatches its own lists to other countries, requesting that they recognize the persons and groups concerned as terrorists and take action against them along the lines of the UN Resolutions, including in particular the freezing of assets. The lists sent out by the United States are referred to as "Bush lists" as they are based on an Executive Order issued by President Bush (Executive Order 13224 of 23 September 2001).