UN sanctions

Sanctions apply pressure to countries that threaten peace, have harmful policies or don’t cooperate with international law. Sanctions can also apply to individual people or companies.
United Nations sanctions logo.
United Nations sanctions logo

Sanctions are a common tool for seeking to influence foreign governments and individuals to change their behaviour. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) can impose sanctions in response to a threat to international peace and security.

As a UN Member State, New Zealand is bound by the UNSC's decisions. We implement sanctions imposed by the UNSC in regulations made under the United Nations Act 1946. Implementing UN sanctions by creating regulations means that we can respond quickly when necessary to impose or remove sanctions.

While we don’t have standalone legislation to impose our own sanctions independently of the UNSC, we can impose other measures such as travel bans on people entering our country. Examples include travel sanctions on specific individuals linked to the Ukraine crisis which were introduced in 2014, and travel bans imposed on Fiji in response to the 2006 coup (which have since been lifted). 

New Zealanders must comply

New Zealanders must fully comply with the regulations that implement UN sanctions. A breach of the sanctions regulations is a criminal offence. Given the wide scope of the regulations, and the penalties for non-compliance, it's essential that anyone contemplating doing business with sanctioned countries obtains independent legal advice first.

This guidance does not constitute legal advice. MFAT accepts no liability for any loss or damage caused to any person relying on this information.

Current UN sanctions

New Zealand currently has regulations implementing the following UN sanctions regimes:


Mali(external link)

Libya(external link)

Somalia(external link)

2017 North Korea 
2016 Iran(external link) Find out about special requirements when doing business with Iran

South Sudan(external link)

Syria Cultural Property(external link) 


Central African Republic(external link)

Yemen(external link)

2012 Guinea-Bissau(external link)
2011 Libya(external link)
2010 Eritrea(external link)
2008 Lebanon(external link)
2007 Al Qaida and Taliban(external link)

Democratic Republic of the Congo(external link)

Kimberley Process(external link)

Sudan(external link)

2003 Iraq reconstruction(external link)
1991 Iraq(external link)

Export controls

Even if you are permitted under sanctions regulations to export to a particular country, you may still need to obtain separate approval to export goods that are strategic goods or that are subject to catch-all controls under the New Zealand Export Controls regime.

The export of strategic goods (firearms, military goods and technologies, and goods and technologies that can be used in the production, development or delivery of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons) is prohibited under the Customs and Excise Act 1996, unless a permit has been obtained from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

These items are listed in the New Zealand Strategic Goods List (2017). Information about the Export Controls regime and how to apply for export permits can be found here.

In addition, the export of goods, software and technologies which are not listed in the New Zealand Strategic Goods List, but which may be intended for use relating, directly or indirectly, to any or all of the following are prohibited:

  • The development, production or deployment of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or their means of delivery in any country.
  • A military end-use in a country subject to a United Nations Security Council arms embargo (i.e. subject to UN sanctions).
  • Use as parts or components of military items listed on the New Zealand Strategic Goods List (categories ML1-ML22) which have been unlawfully exported from New Zealand.

Exporters have a statutory obligation to inform the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade if they are aware, or should reasonably be aware, that an export is intended for or may have any of the prohibited uses described above.

You can find out how to make an export controls enquiry here.


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