Sanctions, Retorsions and Countermeasures: Concepts and International Legal Framework
Forthcoming in Larissa van den Herik (ed.), Research Handbook on UN sanctions and international law (Edward Elgar Publishing)(2016)
27 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2016
Date Written: April 8, 2016
This chapter aims at giving a broader overview of the concepts of sanctions and countermeasures and the overarching international legal framework. At the outset, a note of caution is due. In spite of the laudable efforts of the International Law Commission, the issue of enforcement by means of non-forcible measures is and remains ‘one of the least developed areas of international law’. Notwithstanding its importance, it remains plagued by a variety of delicate controversies and grey areas. The present chapter’s aim is essentially to map the main knowns and, perhaps even more so, the main unknowns.
Section 2 looks at the extent to which sanctions may constitute mere ‘unfriendly’ retorsions that largely operate below the radar of international law. In the alternative, Section 3 examines the main accepted legal bases which may justify the recourse to sanctions by States and organizations. Section 4 turns to the controversy over the legality of third-party countermeasures. Section 5 concludes.
Keywords: Sanctions, countermeasures, retorsions, embargoes, targeted sanctions, third-party countermeasures
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