Economic Sanctions Under International Law: A Guide for Canadian Policy

Rideau Institute on International Affairs and the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa: Research Report (2021).

59 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2021

See all articles by Craig Martin

Craig Martin

Washburn University - School of Law

Date Written: November 28, 2021

Abstract

Economic sanctions have become an increasingly favored tool of Western states in their international relations over the last several decades, but there have also been growing questions regarding the lawfulness of autonomous sanctions (those not authorized by the U.N. Security Council) generally, and so-called secondary sanctions and targeted sanctions more specifically. This report provides an examination of the nature and operation of both authorized and autonomous economic sanctions and the distinct areas of international law that govern the various forms of economic sanctions, with a view to informing Canadian foreign policy on sanctions.

The report provides an analysis of the different legal bases for possible objections that these different forms of sanction are unlawful, from claims that they may constitute unlawful coercive intervention, or be an unlawful extraterritorial exercise of jurisdiction, to claims that they violate specific principles of human rights law, or international trade and investment law. It also examines whether any such violations could be justified as legitimate countermeasures. The report finds that there is a degree of uncertainty regarding some of these aspects of international law, with differing perspectives between the developed and developing states on these questions.

The report provides a brief review of the Canadian domestic law authority for imposing economic sanctions, and places Canada’s current sanctions regimes within the context of the foregoing legal framework and analysis. Canadian law authorizes broad autonomous sanctions both against states and against individuals and private entities, though it has thus far avoided the use of secondary sanctions. The report ends with the suggestion that Canadian policy makers should take the unsettled state of the law as a cause for caution. Moreover, they should be mindful of Canada’s role in helping to shape the evolving customary international law regime, and whether the use of some economic sanctions may be inconsistent with its support for human rights, respect for sovereignty, and the international rule of law.

Keywords: economic sanctions, international law, unlawful intervention, countermeasures, human rights

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Martin, Craig, Economic Sanctions Under International Law: A Guide for Canadian Policy (November 28, 2021). Rideau Institute on International Affairs and the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa: Research Report (2021)., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3973142 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3973142

Craig Martin (Contact Author)

Washburn University - School of Law ( email )

1700 College Avenue
Topeka, KS 66621
United States

HOME PAGE: http://washburnlaw.edu/faculty/martin-craig.php

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
36
Abstract Views
295
PlumX Metrics