Economic Sanctions in IHL: Suggested Principles

34 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2009

See all articles by Amichai Cohen

Amichai Cohen

Ono Academic College - Faculty of Law; Israel Democracy Institute

Date Written: June 24, 2009


Armed conflicts are always harmful for civilians and hence all attempts should be made to avoid them. However, considering that armed conflicts do occur; economic sanctions provide States with a viable alternative. This Article illustrates the need for limitations on the use of economic sanctions. It describes the characteristics of economic sanctions and the existing International Humanitarian Law (IHL) limitations and also suggests that economic sanctions should be further regulated offering three main principles to guide these limitations: the principle of severity, according to which the most severe economic sanctions should be prohibited; the principle of effectiveness, according to which economic sanctions should be allowed only if the State imposing the sanctions can plausibly demonstrate that the sanctions are effective; and the principle of conditionality, according to which the imposing State should declare specific achievable goals for the sanctions, and lift the sanctions immediately when these goals are achieved.

Keywords: IHL, Economic sanctions, Sanctions, Humanitarian Law, State Conflict

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Amichai, Economic Sanctions in IHL: Suggested Principles (June 24, 2009). Hebrew University International Law Research Paper No. 14-09, Available at SSRN: or

Amichai Cohen (Contact Author)

Ono Academic College - Faculty of Law ( email )

104 Zahal St.
Kiryat Ono, 55000

Israel Democracy Institute ( email )

4 Pinsker St.

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