The European Union quadrupled global sanctions in 2020, according to new data from Accuity. 

The steep rise in financial restrictions was driven in part by state violence in Belarus. Authorities responded violently to widespread protests against the re-election of long-term leader Alexander Lukashenko in September last year, which was widely viewed to be rigged. The EU subsequently imposed three rounds of sanctions, including travel bans, asset freezing and restricting funds for key players within the authoritarian government. 

The Office of Foreign Assets control (OFAC) and the US Department of the Treasury still remain the leading issuer of sanctions across the globe, adding over 1,000 new designations to the sanctions list. Iran, Venezuela and Syria were among those to have their fiscal activity the most restricted. 

The United Nations by contrast reduced its sanctioning activity, which is thought to be in response to a shift in priorities towards addressing the ongoing global health crisis.