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Understanding United Nations targeted sanctions: an empirical analysis

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United Nations sanctions have undergone profound transformations in the past two decades. In 1990, the UN Security Council imposed a general, comprehensive embargo on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait. In 2015, there are 16 Sanctions Committees managing regimes that have little in common with the one imposed against Iraq in 1990. The measures imposed against Iraq were comprehensive, covering all goods coming in and out of the country, while sanctions imposed today are mostly against individuals, non‐state entities and are more limited in scope. This article aims to provide empirical and systematic evidence of some of the distinctive qualities of UN targeted sanctions. The analysis identifies three distinctive characteristics of targeted sanctions. First, targeting individuals and non‐state actors has permitted the use of sanctions in a wider range of crisis types. Second, the targets of sanctions are substantially different from comprehensive sanctions. Third, the form taken by sanctions is substantially different today from the trade embargoes imposed in the past. The author concludes that the Security Council should devote special attention to the designing and implementation phases of sanctions. The article makes use of the new database prepared by the Targeted Sanctions Consortium (TSC), which includes all cases of UN targeted sanctions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2015

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