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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2016

Sue E. Eckert
Affiliation:
Brown University, United States
Thomas J. Biersteker
Affiliation:
Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland
Marcos Tourinho
Affiliation:
School of Social Sciences at the Fundação Getulio Vargas, São Paulo, Brazil
Thomas J. Biersteker
Affiliation:
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
Sue E. Eckert
Affiliation:
Brown University, Rhode Island
Marcos Tourinho
Affiliation:
Fundacao Getulio Vargas, Sao Paulo
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Summary

The use of targeted sanctions as a central instrument to address challenges to international peace and security has been a defining feature of UN Security Council practice since the end of the Cold War. The comprehensive sanctions imposed on Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait in 1990 exacted a heavy toll on the Iraqi economy, as well as its citizens. Reports concerning the death of 500,000 Iraqi children – a figure originating in a UNICEF report on infant mortality in sanctions-era Iraq – raised alarm among human rights groups and some Member States, and were used by Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to campaign against the sanctions. One effort to mitigate humanitarian consequences of the embargo, notably the Oil-for-Food Programme, was slow to be put into effect and did not always reach its intended beneficiaries. While arguments persist as to whether the severe consequences were Saddam Hussein's doing or a product of the sanctions alone, recognition of the significant humanitarian costs of the blunt instrument of comprehensive sanctions was nearly universal. The terrible price of the Iraqi sanctions created an enduring awareness of the negative effects sanctions can have on innocent civilians.

In view of the consequences and controversy over the Iraq sanctions, the UN Security Council decisively moved away from comprehensive sanctions. In fact, no new sanctions imposed by the United Nations since 1994 have included comprehensive economic measures. Rather, the Security Council adjusted the instrument to focus on individuals and entities responsible for the actions or behaviour posing threats to international peace and security or on economic sectors that support their proscribed activities. Commonly referred to as ‘smart’ or targeted sanctions, the Security Council has utilized this modified form of sanctions to limit the humanitarian impact with growing frequency – most often to address armed conflict and terrorism, but also to consolidate peace agreements, support peacebuilding, address unconstitutional changes of government, limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and most recently to protect civilians under the Responsibility to Protect. Targeted sanctions are directed at leaders, decision-makers, their principal supporters, or individual sectors of an economy or geographic regions, rather than indiscriminately at an entire population.

Despite this turn to targeted measures and the move away from comprehensive sanctions, however, there has been only limited recognition of these developments in popular discourse, in most policy discussions, and in the scholarly community.

Type
Chapter
Information
Targeted Sanctions
The Impacts and Effectiveness of United Nations Action
, pp. 1 - 10
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2016

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