European court upholds asset freeze in terrorist case

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

On September 21st, the Court of First Instance of the Court of Justice of the European Communities ruled that decisions of the United Nations Security Council take precedence over national constitutions, European law and even the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). Observers claim that this ruling undermines the rule of law and the principles of the constitutional state.

In their verdict in the case of Ahmed Ali Yusuf, a Swede of Arab origin whose funds had been frozen in November 2001 by the European authorities after a Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council had put him on a list of alleged terrorists, the five judges state that: “the right of access to the courts, a principle recognised by both Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966, is not absolute.”

The Court holds that even organisations (like the European Union) that are not members of the United Nations are bound by decisions of the UN Security Council.

The lawyer of the convicted:

"[The verdict] is completely unacceptable [and] raises questions about the EU’s position as regards the rule of law.”"

Ahmed Ali Yusuf says he will appeal to the European Court of Justice.


  • Court of justice of the European Communities. "press release" —  september 21, 2005