Global Policy Forum


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The UN Security Council imposes sanctions to enforce international law. Sanctions are potentially an important policy tool and in some cases they have had positive results. But they have been highly controversial for a variety of reasons. This site offers an introductory analysis on sanctions as well as much in-depth material on the subject.

In particular, Global Policy Forum provides case studies on the Security Council sanctions against specific countries. Our most extensive case study concerns the sanctions against Iraq, which the Security Council imposed in response to the Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. This economic embargo continued in force for thirteen years and it came to be seen increasingly as unfair and punitive - a "blunt instrument" according to the Secretary General suspected to have contributed to thousands of deaths. A growing controversy over sanctions led observers to conclude that general economic sanctions caused disproportionate harm and should never again be used.

The growing controversy over Iraq sanctions led an important innovation: the development of "targeted sanctions" aimed directly at elite interests and specific individuals in "recalcitrant" countries. These "targeted sanctions" were designed to be tightly-focused so as to limit their humanitarian impact. Indeed, all UN sanctions today are "targeted". Nonetheless, these sanctions have generated new challenges that arise from the legal implications of naming individuals. Names of individuals may be unfairly or hastily placed on Council lists, named persons have little or no recourse if named unfairly, and listing common names may harm completely innocent persons.

Finally there is a page with general articles on sanctions. These include news articles, policy recommendations and other articles related to this topic.


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