Trade sanctions and publishing
Elsevier is committed to the principles of freedom of expression and to the worldwide dissemination of science and health information.
At the same time, the company is also bound by EU, UK, US and other laws and regulations that impact its publishing activities, by prohibiting:
Transactions with any people or entities located in certain countries or territories (“Geographic Sanctions”);
Transactions with specific people or entities listed on the EU Consolidated List, the UK Consolidated List, and US Specially Designated Nationals or Blocked Persons list (collectively referred to as “SDNs”); and
The publication of certain sensitive information (e.g., military defense-related) that is governed by export control laws (“Regulated Information”).
Governments impose these restrictions as a means to promote human rights and the rule of law, and to address security and terrorism concerns.
Elsevier is committed to finding a balance between these interests, and in appropriate circumstances, to challenging government over-reach or overly broad interpretations of the rules that unnecessarily affect legitimate publishing activities.
Compliance with Geographic Sanctions
Exceptions and licenses for the publishing industry
Geographic Sanctions are currently in place for Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea, Crimea, and the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (respectively the “DNR” and “LNR”).
Under EU and UK law, distributing content and providing publishing-related services to authors are not prohibited under Geographic Sanctions.
Under US law, an Information Materials (IM) exception allows Elsevier to sell and distribute journal, book and other content to parties located in all the jurisdictions listed above that are subject to Geographic Sanctions.
The IM exception, however, does not permit Elsevier to provide publishing services such as peer review, book editing, and marketing services to authors in these countries or regions. The US separately allows such services pursuant to Publishing General Licenses (PGLs), which so far have only been issued for Iran, Cuba, and Syria. As a result, Elsevier can provide publishing services to authors in these countries, so long as the authors are:
not designated as an SDN themselves under a different sanctions program without a PGL; and
publishing in their personal capacity (i.e., not on behalf of the government in the geographically sanctioned jurisdiction or on behalf of an SDN entity); or
employed by an academic or research institution (even if the institution is controlled by the government in the geographically sanctioned jurisdiction) so long as the institution itself is not designated under (or owned by an entity designated under) a program without a PGL.
The Geographic Sanctions imposed on North Korea and Crimea, and recently on the DNR and LNR regions, do not yet include PGLs explicitly permitting publishing services. Therefore, Elsevier currently cannot provide peer review, editing, and other services to authors in these locations, because it can only publish “journal/book-ready” works by prospective authors there. During the submission process, Elsevier asks prospective authors from these locations to verify that they can publish with Elsevier under these government restrictions.
Compliance with rules governing SDNs
As noted, while several countries maintain lists of specific individuals and entities known as SDNs, with whom it is illegal to conduct business, Elsevier can publish works from authors who are not themselves SDNs (or are SDNs under a program with a PGL) and can do so even if the author is employed by an SDN entity, so long as the author is publishing in their personal capacity and not as a representative of the SDN entity.
There are publicly searchable resources to identify SDNs, including https://sanctionssearch.ofac.treas.gov/(opens in new tab/window). Prospective authors likewise are asked to confirm that they meet the criteria to publish under these rules governing SDNs.
Compliance with rules governing Regulated Information
The prohibition on publishing Regulated Information (i) narrowly relates to information required for the design, manufacture and operation of military and defense-related items that are governed by export control laws; and (ii) is further narrowed by an exception for the publication of general science, math and engineering principles commonly taught in academic institutions or information that is already in the public domain.
As a result, this rule does not apply to publication of the vast majority of Elsevier’s published journal articles and books.
Elsevier asks that submitting authors ensure that their submissions do not contain information prohibited from publication by export control laws.
For reference, US export control laws can be accessed here: