Sanctions and Zimbabwe: Smarting under Sanctions

President Robert Mugabe may not know much about smart sanctions, but he is about to learn. The European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States are all imposing or considering targeted financial sanctions and travel restrictions against Mugabe and other leading officials if Zimbabwe continues on its present undemocratic path.

The World Today Updated 23 October 2020 Published 1 March 2002 4 minute READ

George A. Lopez

Founding Faculty, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame

David Cortright

Author of forthcoming International Peace Academy volume 'Sanctions and the Search for Security'

Political despots have typically decried the harmful social impacts of sanctions, while scoffing at their political impact.

In the case of Zimbabwe, however, the reverse may be true. Precision-guided sanctions that lock down the money and prevent the travel of a few hundred officials will not cause humanitarian hardship, but they may result in substantial political gain. Certainly this is what the coalition proposing them intends.

The record of recent cases suggests that targeted sanctions have considerable potential. Although the humanitarian ordeal in Iraq clouds the public impression, that case is the exception rather than the rule.

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