Past eventMembers

The Effectiveness of Sanctions as a Foreign Policy Instrument

14 October 2015 - 13:00 to 14:00

Chatham House, London


Richard Nephew, Program Director, Economic Statecraft, Sanctions and Energy Markets, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University; White House Director on Iran (2011-13); Deputy Sanctions Coordinator, US Department of State (2013-15)

Baroness Neville-Jones, Chair of the British Joint Intelligence Committee (1993-94); Minister of State for Security and Counterterrorism (2010-11)

Dr Alex Vines OBE, Research Director, Area Studies and International Law; Head, Africa Programme, Chatham House

Chair: Maya Lester, Barrister, Brick Court Chambers



The reaction to the recent Iran nuclear deal has brought into light questions about the degree to which sanctions work to achieve their own foreign policy aims. Though some will point to the Iran deal and argue that economic sanctions have forced the country to the negotiating table, others argue that Iran's economic problems were as much caused by mismanagement as sanctions.  Moreover, given such measures disproportionately punish the poorest in a society, some argue that sanctions can ultimately reinforce the regimes that they seek to affect.

Our expert panel will consider whether the case can be made that international sanctions achieved their aims in Iran. The discussion will then be broadened to consider historic examples of sanctions’ successes and failures juxtaposed against contemporary sanctions schemes in Venezuela, Russia, Zimbabwe and Cuba. Have such measures really forced a start to negotiations and led to foreign policy victories? Or do they merely entrench political resentment while making the lives of the lower and middle classes in a targeted country more difficult?