Transnational Listing Project
Since the 9/11 attacks of 2001 there has been a global proliferation of security lists. UN Security Council sanctions have been radically modified, allowing unprecedented powers to target anyone deemed to be 'associated with' terrorism worldwide. National States (such as the US and UK) and regional bodies (such as the European Union) have created their own draconian terrorism listing regimes. Many of these lists have been made interoperable with other closed security databases operated by international organisations such as Interpol and private databases such as Worldcheck.
The result has been the creation of a transnational ensemble of intelligence-driven security lists, partly visible and partly secret, that has strengthened executive powers worldwide in novel and expansive ways. Most targeted individuals will likely remain listed indefinitely - unable to access funds, travel or participate in ordinary economic life. They will never know precisely why they were put on security lists (because the reasons are kept confidential) and they will never access or obtain legal assistance to come off (because they lack the resources to do so). Even if removed from one list they will remain on other lists around the world and will forever be subjected to interference by security services wherever they seek to go. Their lives, and those of their families, will never be the same again and those responsible will never be held accountable.
The Transnational Listing Project aims to challenge this pre-emptive security power and provide access to justice for those who are targeted. Coordinated by Gavin Sullivan - a lawyer and scholar with years of experience representing listed individuals – and supported by VU University (the Netherlands) and Roma Tre University (Italy), the project has three goals:
- First, to provide pro-bono legal assistance to targeted individuals, seeking their removal from the various security lists that they are entangled in (including the UN targeted sanctions regimes, EU restrictive measures, the US Specially Designated Global Terrorist List, the Interpol UNSC Special Notices and the private security lists maintained by companies such as World Check), giving the innocent their best chance at a fair process.
- Second, by engaging each of the different interconnected security lists rather than seeking redress in a single jurisdiction, the project empirically researches, makes visible and helps challenge the transnational exercise of executive power - whereby national security actors work together to target 'high-risk' individuals across conventional legal boundaries and beyond traditional constitutional restraints.
- Third, by bringing targeted individuals, defence lawyers, law student volunteers and creative workers from different countries together into one operational network, the project provides an effective organisational platform to advocate for accountability and legal reform on this issue.
To obtain redress and justice for individuals who are targeted and give them the chance to prove their innocence; to make visible and challenge the transnational exercise of executive power at all of the different sites where it is wielded; and to advocate for reform against the unfairness of these measures and to push to make those who are responsible accountable. These are the three founding principles of the Transnational Listing Project.
in cooperation with Alice Riccardi of Tre University, Rome
See also the Law Clinic on Transnational Listing within our LLM Law and Politics of International Security