Economic sanctions

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Economic sanctions are commercial and financial penalties applied by one or more countries against a targeted country, group, or individual. [1] Economic sanctions may include various forms of trade barriers, tariffs, and restrictions on financial transactions.[2] Economic sanctions are not necessarily imposed because of economic circumstances—they may also be imposed for a variety of political, military, and social issues. Economic sanctions can be used for achieving domestic and international purposes.[3][4][5]

Politics of sanctions[edit]

Economic sanctions are used as a tool of foreign policy by many governments. Economic sanctions are usually imposed by a larger country upon a smaller country for one of two reasons—either the latter is a threat to the security of the former nation or that country treats its citizens unfairly. They can be used as a coercive measure for achieving particular policy goals related to trade or for humanitarian violations. Economic sanctions are used as an alternative weapon instead of going to war to achieve desired outcomes.

Some policy analysts believe imposing trade restrictions only serves to hurt ordinary people.[6]

Effectiveness of economic sanctions[edit]

Regime change is the most frequent foreign policy objective of economic sanctions.[7] There is controversy over the effectiveness of economic sanctions in their ability to achieve the stated purpose. Haufbauer et al. claimed that in their studies 34 percent of the cases were successful [8] When Robert A. Pape reexamined their study, he claimed that only five of their forty so-called "successes" stood out, dropping their success rate to 4%.[9] Success of sanctions as a form of measuring effectiveness has also been widely debated by scholars of economic sanctions. [10] Success of a single sanctions resolution does not automatically lead to effectiveness, unless the stated objective of the sanctions regime is clearly identified and reached.

It also affects the economy of the imposing country to some degree. If import restrictions were made, the consumers in the imposing country would have fewer choices of goods. If export restrictions were made or sanction prohibited businesses in the imposing country from doing business with the target country, the imposing country could lose markets and investment opportunities to competing countries.[11]

Jeremy Greenstock suggests that the reason sanctions are popular is not that they are known to be effective, but "that there is nothing else between words and military action if you want to bring pressure upon a government".[12]

Current sanctions [13][edit]

By targeted country[edit]

By targeted individuals[edit]

By sanctioning country[edit]

By targeted activity[edit]

  • In response to recent cyber-attacks on April 1, 2015 President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the first-ever economic sanctions. The Executive Order will impact individuals and entities (“designees”) responsible for cyber-attacks that threaten the national security, foreign policy, economic health, or financial stability of the US. Specifically, the Executive Order authorizes the Treasury Department to freeze designees’ assets.[17]
  • In response to intelligence analysis alleging Russian hacking and interference with the 2016 U.S. elections, President Obama expanded presidential authority to sanction in response to cyber activity that threatens democratic elections.[18] Given that the original order was intended to protect critical infrastructure, it can be argued that the election process should have been included in the original order. It can be further argued that democratic elections are our most critical infrastructure.

Bilateral trade disputes[edit]

  • Vietnam as a result of capitalist influences over the 1990s and having imposed sanctions against Cambodia, is accepting of sanctions diposed with accountability.[clarification needed]
  • In March 2010, Brazil introduced sanctions against the US. These sanctions were placed because the US government was paying cotton farmers for their products against World Trade Organization rules. The sanctions cover cotton, as well as cars, chewing gum, fruit, and vegetable products.[19] The WTO is currently supervising talks between the states to remove the sanctions.

Former sanctions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Financial Weapons of War, Minnesota Law Review (2016), available at:
  2. ^ Haidar, J.I., 2015."Sanctions and Exports Deflection: Evidence from Iran," Paris School of Economics, University of Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, Mimeo
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "Playing to the Home Crowd? Symbolic Use of Economic Sanctions in ...". 2011-09-01. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  5. ^ [2] Archived August 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ [3] Archived February 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Economic Sanctions Reconsidered, 3rd Edition, Hufbauer et al. p. 67
  8. ^ Economic Sanctions Reconsidered, 3rd Edition, Hufbauer et al. p. 159
  9. ^ Why economic sanctions still do not work. Robert A. Pape, p. 66
  10. ^ A Strategic Understanding of UN Economic Sanctions: International Relations, Law, and Development, Golnoosh Hakimdavar, p. 105
  11. ^ Griswold, Daniel (2000-11-27). "Going Alone on Economic Sanctions Hurts U.S. More than Foes". Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  12. ^ Marcus, Jonathan. "Analysis: Do economic sanctions work?". Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Howse, Robert L. and Genser, Jared M. (2008) "Are EU Trade Sanctions on Burma Compatible with WTO Law?" Archived June 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Michigan Journal of International Law 29(2): pp. 165–96
  15. ^ "Clinton Ends Most N. Korea Sanctions". 1999-09-18. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 
  16. ^ [4] Archived July 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "Sanctions: U.S. action on cyber crime" (PDF). PwC Financial Services Regulatory Practice, April, 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Brazil slaps trade sanctions on U.S. to retaliate for subsidies to cotton farmers". 2010-03-09. Retrieved 2015-03-30. 

External links[edit]