Mandatory United Nation (UN) sanctions imposed against Iraq, the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia and Haiti in the 1990s gave rise to strong criticisms because
of their comprehensive nature and the harm inflicted on innocent civilians.
Chastened, the international community, led by like-minded, mainly western
states, reformed the instrument of sanctions and adopted ‘targeted sanctions’—
measures designed to address the peace spoilers but limit damage to the population
at large.1 The consequence has been the evolution of sanctions from blunt,
comprehensive measures targeting the economies of entire states to more specific
measures targeting individuals, non-state entities, particular regions and specific
sectors of economies. Despite this profound change, sanctions are still mistakenly
assumed to target whole countries. Failing to recognize these qualitative
differences between comprehensive and targeted sanctions has prevented the
debate on sanctions from evolving.