United Nations Sanctions: Creating a More Effective Tool for the Enforcement of International Law
Austrian Journal of Public and International Law, Vol. 48, pp. 161-195, 1995
35 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2009
Date Written: June 1, 1995
In the four years since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the United Nations has imposed sanctions on target states seven times, in contrast to only three uses of sanctions in the previous 71 years by the United Nations and the League of Nations. Sanctions are penalties for violations of norms of international law, penalties intended to induce the target state to alter its illegal behavior and comply with the norms and demands of the international community. The substantial increase in the use and breadth of universal non-military sanctions in the past four years demonstrates first that sanctions have become a popular and well-received mechanism for the enforcement of international law, and second, that the current system of sanctions, although frequently invoked, is ineffective and needs improvement.
This article highlights several shortcomings of sanctions, including reliance on domestic implementation, loopholes in international implementation of sanctions, and policy issues regarding the linkage of sanctions to the overthrow of governments and the problem of sanctions disproportionately impacting the ordinary citizens rather than the leaders and elites. The article then proposes several changes in existing sanctions regimes to improve the effectiveness of sanctions and enable sanctions to stand alone, without the accompanying threat of imminent military force in the background. I therefore propose changes in the broader attitude toward and policy of sanctions as well as specific changes to existing mechanisms for the implementation of sanctions.
Keywords: Iraq, Serbia, sanctions, blockade, United Nations, Chapter VII, Kuwait, Haiti, Angola, Rhodesia, League of Nations, collective security, multilateral, Yugoslavia, Libya, South Africa, international law, Rwanda
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation