Sanctions - Costs and Benefits: Sanctions Straitjacket

For years, sanctions have been seen as a convenient and cheap means of coercing misbehaving states. Those perceived benefits are now being re-evaluated – by the UN amongst others. With states such as Iraq defying sanctions, Western nations are finding themselves in a straitjacket where either lifting or tightening them is equally unpalatable.

The World Today
Published 1 May 2000 Updated 27 October 2020 4 minute READ

David Shearer

Throughout the 1990s, sanctions were imposed so routinely that many have dubbed those years the sanctions decade. Before that, sanctions had been used by the UN’s Security Council just twice: once against Rhodesia in 1966 and later against South Africa in 1977.

But after 1990 the floodgates opened. First was Iraq in 1990 and then the former Yugoslavia in 1991, 1992 and 1998. A flurry of sanctions in 1992 were imposed against Somalia, parts of Cambodia, Libya and Liberia. In 1993, it was the turn of Haiti and parts of Angola – hit by further restrictions in 1997 and 1998. Then followed Rwanda in 1994, Sudan in 1996, Sierra Leone in 1997 and Afghanistan in 1999. On top of these, scores of others were introduced by regional groupings and neighbouring states.

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