International Law Advisory - To strengthen sanctions against the Government of Syria

March 15, 2005

On March 8, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R-FL] introduced a bill calling for strengthened sanctions against the Government of Syria in light of recent actions and its continued control in Lebanon.   The bill, H.R. 1141, which is co-sponsored by six, bi-partisan Representatives, is entitled  the “Lebanon and Syria Liberation Act” and may be found at the above link.

The purpose of  H.R. 1141  is to deny Syria the ability to harbor and promote terrorist organizations; to hinder the development of  biological, chemical or nuclear weapons in Syria; and to promote democracy within both Syria and Lebanon.  The bill seeks to continue sanctions against the Government of Syria through the codification of  existing Commerce Department export prohibitions regarding the state.  (As a result, if the Lebanon and Syria Liberation Act is passed, any change to this export ban would require congressional action.)  Further,  H.R. 1141 seeks to deter any U.S. or foreign person or government from providing monetary or military assistance to the state.  The Lebanon and Syria Liberation Act sets forth the following sanctions:

Sanctions Against Certain Persons

The bill requires that any person (including an individual, corporation, partnership, or other form of association) who knowingly transfers or retransfers goods or technology (whether U.S.-origin or otherwise) which may contribute to the development of destabilizing numbers and types of conventional weapons, or that allows for the development of chemical, biological, or nuclear weaponry, shall be denied the ability to participate in U.S. government procurement transactions.  In addition, the government shall not issue any license for the export of goods by or to such person, and shall ban all imports that are a product of the sanctioned person.

Sanctions Against Certain Foreign Countries

If a foreign country is found to be knowingly aiding Syria, the United States will (1) suspend its obligations under any technical exchange agreements between itself and the country involving military and dual-use technology (provided that the technology does not directly contribute to U.S. security) and (2) ban the export of military or dual-use technology to the sanctioned country pursuant to the agreement.  Additionally, two or more of the following sanctions will be enforced:

  • Suspension of assistance from the United States (including assistance provided under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Arms Export Control Act, as well as financing provided by the Commodity Credit Corporation or the Export-Import Bank);
  • Denial of a license for any export to or by the sanctioned country;
  • Ban on the importation of any item that is a product of the sanctioned country;
  • Opposition by the U.S. government representative within any international financial institution to financial or technical assistance to the sanctioned country;
  • Ban on exportation of any good listed on the United States Munitions List;
  • Suspension of compliance by the United States with any memorandum of understanding for the codevelopment or coproduction of any item on the United States Munitions List, including technical assistance or licensing for export of any component part.

Finally, the Lebanon and Syria Liberation Act calls for the President to draft an annual report detailing other countries’ assistance to, and commerce with, the Government of Syria.

H.R. 1141 has been referred to the House Government Reform Committee, the Financial Services Committee, and the International Affairs Committee.  At this time, no further action has taken place on this bill.

We will continue to keep you apprised of any developments of the Lebanon and Syria Liberation Act.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Ed Krauland at 202.429.8083.