The Use and Impact of Economic Sanctions

1.  Robert A. Pape’s article in International Security, titled “Why Economist Sanctions Do Not Work,” argues that sanctions have only been effective 5% of the time
2.  The longer sanctions are imposed, the less chance they have of succeeding.
3.  Many policy makers would suggest that sanctions can achieve ambitious foreign policy goals
4.  There are often high costs to using sanctions, including civilian suffering. The degree of human damage can be considerable, while their likelihood of achieving political objectives is low.
5.  By their very nature, sanctions effectively target the most vulnerable and least political sectors of society.
6.  Economic sanctions are considered by many to be morally and ethically problematic, despite being considered as a humanitarian alternative to war.
7.  United Nations agencies, including F.A.O. and Unicef, expressed concern about the damage being done to Iraqis, especially children, by United Nations economic sanctions after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. One report estimated that 576,000 Iraqi children may have died after the Persian Gulf war because of economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council. There is debate over the numbers of death attributed to the sanctions, based on methodological questions, but consensus that civilians became targets rather than the political regime.
8.  Sanctions are often implemented with the intention of changing a targeted state’s behaviour, to bring about conformity with international ethical norms.
9.  It is important to question if punishing the most vulnerable, using economic sanctions, leads to only short term change in the behaviour of the target state rather than longer term conformity
10.  Since 9/11, there has been a pronounced shift toward targeted or so-called “smart” sanctions, which aim to minimize the suffering of innocent civilians. The jury is still out as to whether sanctions can ever be really smart. See the following article for a further analysis:

About barora01

Dr Bela Arora is a Senior Lecturer in Global Governance with fifteen years experience in the sector and holds a PhD focusing on arms control. She is the course leader of the MSc in Global Governance at the University of South Wales, which focuses on practice, rather than theory alone. The course may be of interest to professionals from NGOs, government and business. She has worked in some of the UK’s top ranked universities such as Birmingham, Warwick and Cardiff, where she has engaged in lecturing, strategic planning and policy development. She has experience of research and consultancy at national and international level including high profile projects for the United Nations Global Compact, the British Standards Institute Sigma initiative and the International Business Leaders Forum on conflict diamonds. She has engaged with public and private sector organisations. Bela provides analysis on international security for BBC Wales and ITV Wales.
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