How effective are economic sanctions as a mean of control of state behavior?

Author:ALsheyab, Mohamad Saeed Abdallah
Position:Report
 
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  1. INTRODUCTION

    Economic sanctions are defined as "coercive measures taken against one or more countries to force a change in policies or at least to demonstrate a country's opinion about the other's policies". Economic sanctions are imposed by the United Nations Security Council upon occurrence of any breach by a state to international law rules. There are various economic instruments used to penalize governments that violate rules of international law.

    It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of economic sanctions and that is due to the continual ambiguity of the rationales and objectives behind their use, even in cases where the real objective behind economic sanctions is visible, it is still hard to determine the extent to which the sanctions contributed to the desired outcomes. According to the Hafbauer-Schott study, since 1945 there have been Sixty-two cases where the United States was one of the sender countries, the study found a success rate of about 40% and this success rate has decreased somewhat in recent years notably in the sphere of sanctions seeking modest policy results.

    One of the most stimulating conclusions of the Hafbauer and Schott study was that the multiple regression analysis proposes that financial controls are marginally more successful than export controls, but that import controls are the most successful of all types.

  2. WHO IMPOSES ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AND WHY?

    Economic sanctions are defined as "coercive measures taken against one or more countries to force a change in policies or at least to demonstrate a country's opinion about the other's policies" (Diane E. Rennak and Robert D. Shuey, 1997). Economic sanctions, typically, take the form of measures imposed against a specific target state or states such as trade embargoes; restrictions on particular exports or imports; denial of foreign assistance, loans, and investments or control of foreign assets and economic transactions (Diane E. Rennak and Robert D. Shuey, 1997).

    It has been argued that economic sanctions are penalties imposed against target state that has violated the norms or rules of international law, and such penalties aim to persuade the target state to change its legal behavior and to comply with the norms and demands of the international community (Lauri Rosensweig, 1995). Although it can not be denied that economic sanctions are penalties, however, imposing the penalties in the case of economic sanctions seek to force rather than persuade the country to change its behavior and comply with norms of international law. The use of penalties implies forcing a specific change while persuasion usually does not imply use of punishment.

    Economic sanctions are imposed by the United Nations Security Council upon occurrence of any breach by a state to international law rules (Lauri Rosensweig, 1995). There are various economic instruments used to penalize governments that violate rules of international law (Diane E. Rennak and Robert D. Shuey, 1997), such instruments include boycotts, embargoes, freezing assets, travel restrictions, financial restrictions, on the current currencies, and the exclusion of transportation, mail services and other means of communication to and from the target country (DW Greige and Philip Alston, 1995).

    Economic sanctions can be implemented to serve several objectives and goals. In some cases economic sanctions may be pre-emptive in their design, and that is sanctions which might be imposed to work as a disincentive directed to warn a target government from committing an illegal action or it might be imposed to deny a government the accomplishment of its objective after it has committed unlawful action (DW Greige and Philip Alston, 1995). Sanctions become the punishment attached to transgression and breach of international law in the form of punitive action initiated by a number of international actors, specially the United Nations, against one or more states for the violation of a universally certified charter, as inducements to follow or to refrain from following that particular course of behavior and comply with international law (DW Greige and Philip Alston, 1995). Therefore, such punishment becomes combined with the intent of an enjoining state to make sufficient economic harm in order to force the target state to change its conduct and bring it into conformity with international law rules (DW Greige and Philip Alston, 1995).

    It has been noted that the use of economic sanctions as an instrument to force a redirection in a target state's policy may have a broad range of objectives, which can range from the aim to achieve a relatively minor change in policy, to a greater development such as massive troop withdrawals or even changes in leadership, and while such instrumental objectives are implicit in most cases of sanctions; other objectives may also come into play (DW Greige and Philip Alston, 1995). Perhaps the most important among these is to send an obvious message to the target state that its conduct is unacceptable to the international community and that if target state continues with its unlawful action or behavior, it could be faced with more serious measures (DW Greige and Philip Alston, 1995). Generally, it can be said that economic sanctions seeks to isolate the target state legally and politically from the international community and consequently deprive it from the advantages and benefits of international intercourse (DW Greige and Philip Alston, 1995).

    The political authority and legitimacy of economic sanctions have been strengthened by their formal international institutionalization within the United Nations framework, in framing the charter of the United Nations special attention was given to the use of economic sanctions as a part of more worldwide system of collective security (DW Greige and Philip Alston, 1995). Under Article 24, the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security is vested in the Security Council, and by virtue of Article 39, the Security Council is to "determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression" and may enact provisional measures under Article 40, while examining the situation further and before implementing more severe actions.

    The use of economic sanctions is expressed as the complete or partial interruption of economic relations is authorized to the council under Article 41, as are similar measures not including the use of armed force (U.N Charter, Chapter VII, Article 41). In that regard, Article 41 of the U.N Charter provides:

    "The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations."

    Practice has showed that the United Nations Security Council has imposed economic sanctions against many countries in the world, fore example, the Security Council imposed economic sanctions against LIBYA on the account of the LIBYAN government alleged support to international terrorism and its refusal to surrender to the U.S or to the U.K two LIBYAN nationals who were accused to be involved in the bombing of PAN...

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