Canada imposes various economic sanctions and trade restrictions pursuant to the United Nations Act (“UNA”) and the Special Economic Measures Act (“SEMA”). The specific sanctions are implemented in country specific or targeted regulations. That being said, most regulations promulgated under SEMA have a sister regulation that grants authority to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and/or Minister of International Trade to grant authorizations (called a “Ministerial Authorization”) to allow certain transactions. Most regulations promulgated under the UNA contain exemptions that may be granted by way of a Ministerial certificate (we call these Ministerial Authorizations also).
Ministerial Authorizations are only granted pursuant to a specific request that is carefully considered on a case-by-case basis. One person can be granted a Ministerial Authorization for a transaction and it is not guaranteed that a second Ministerial Authorization will be granted to that same person.
The Ministerial Authorization can be a general authorization or may be granted in specific situations.
General authorizations are set out in SEMA regulations. For example, the Special Economic Measures (Iran) Authorization Order provides that it:
“hereby authorizes the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue to any person in Canada or any Canadian outside Canada a permit to carry out a specified activity or transaction, or any class of activity or transaction, that is restricted or prohibited pursuant to the Special Economic Measures (Iran) Regulations.”
Similar provisions are found in respect of Canada’s sanctions against Burma/Myanmar, Iran, Libya, South Sudan, Syria, Russia, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.
The more specific authorizations are contained in UNA regulations. For example, section 13 of the Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) provides that:
(2) If it is established in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1718 that the property is necessary for basic or extraordinary expenses or is subject to a lien, mortgage or security interest, to a hypothec or prior claim, to a charge or to a judicial, administrative or arbitral decision, the Minister must issue a certificate within the following deadlines:
(c) within 90 days after receiving the application, in the case of property that is subject to a lien, mortgage or security interest, to a hypothec or prior claim, to a charge or to a judicial, administrative or arbitral decision that