Summary of "International Sanctions: Between Words and Wars in the Global System"

Summary of

International Sanctions: Between Words and Wars in the Global System

By Peter Wallensteen and Carina Staibano, eds.

Summary written by Mihaela Racovita

Citation: Wallensteen, Peter and Carina Staibano, eds. International Sanctions: Between Words and Wars in the Global System. Abingdon, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis, Inc., 2005, 251 pp.

This piece was written while the author, Mihaela Racovita, was a student in the Master of Arts in Peace Studies program at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, which is located at the University of Notre Dame.

1. Introduction

International Sanctions, edited by Peter Wallensteen and Carina Staibano, examines the new challenges posed by the use of this instrument of collective security in the context of increased post-Cold War UN activism and the appearance of new international actors. The refinement of the concept through the introduction of targeted sanctions — rather than comprehensive ones — has opened the way to new questions about their effectiveness, prerequisites, application, and conceptualization.

The book is divided into four parts, dealing with: emerging patterns in sanction employment, instruments of improving implementation, new actors, and perfecting the legality and implementation of targeted sanctions.

2. Structure

Part I: New Sanctions and Emerging Patterns

The first part of the volume takes a macro view, searching for general trends in the application of targeted sanctions.

Kimberly Ann Elliott investigates trends in economic sanctions, looking at the context affecting their proliferation (post-Cold War global politics), changes in US sanctions policy, patterns of success pre- and post-UN activism, and the rising interest in this security tool. Her findings point towards a shift of focus from Latin America to Africa, a decreased level of US unilateralism, and a decline in the frequency of use after the 1990s because of the costs and limitations of the tool.

Continuing to follow UN reform trends, Thomas Biersteker et al. survey the move away from comprehensive sanctions towards targeted ones, underscoring the need for continued reform aimed at countering evasion and perfecting implementation by reducing comprehensive effects.

Carina Staibano identifies a shift in the targeting of sanctions from governments to non-state actors and individuals, and notes an increased reliance on regional organizations and NGOs for implementation. This is complemented by capacity-building on the ground, in order to increase efficiency.

Part 2: New Sanctions Capacity: Emphasizing Implementation

Working from the assumption that targeted sanctions require more refined mechanisms of implementation, the second part of the book contains several studies dedicated to improving these collective tools.

Biersteker et al. draw up a framework for increasing the effectiveness of sanctions at the national and sector level, the latter organized by type of targeted sanctions, through the development of countries' legal and administrative capacities.

David Cortright and George Lopez take a new approach to implementation by emphasizing the need for a new position in the UN: "sanctions coordinator". They review the potential role and functions of such a position, and cite other positions that might serve as models. They also discuss political and institutional prerequisites for the creation of such a position, including budgetary implications and the need for a "permanent monitoring mechanism."

Bjorn Hagelin argues for improving the efficiency of arms embargos as a specific type of targeted sanctions, through the adoption of "end-use documents" as a standard international procedure. (An end-use document is a "trade security control document" which verifies the end-destination of weapons that are transferred from one actor to another.)

Part 3: New Actors: Empowering Organizations

Given the increasing number of actors moving on the international scene, scholars of targeted sanctions need to expand their studies to include the challenges posed by these new agencies.

Antonius de Vries and Hadewych Hazelzet document the appearance of the European Union as a new international actor utilizing sanctions, by investigating the processes of enforcement, monitoring, and planning that it has thus far employed. They underline what they feel to be the yet largely untapped potential leverage of the EU in this regard. Michael Erikson goes further in studying EU sanctions by looking at three cases of targeted sanctions — in Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe — and offers a suggestion for reforming targeted sanctions in general.

On a different note, Lennart Wohlgemuth investigates the sanctions imposed on Burundi by neighboring African countries as part of an "African solution." He concludes that despite criticisms, the sanctions were successful. Continuing the discussion of new actors in the field of sanctions, Cortright, Gerber, and Lopez examine the role of international agencies (the International Atomic Energy Agency, Interpol, the World Customs Organization, etc.) and regional organizations (the EU, the Economic Community of West African States, the League of Arab States, etc.).

Steve Charnovitz looks at the effectiveness and targetability of WTO trade sanctions, concluding that the WTO has a poor record of producing compliance or targeting particular actors.

Part 4: Targeting: Enhancing Legality and Effectiveness

The increase in the number of applied targeted sanctions has inevitably raised questions of side-effects and effectiveness, which have, in turn, increased the need to hone targeted sanctions.

Curtis Ward analyzes the relevance of the Counter-Terrorism Committee in implementing targeted sanctions under UN Security Council Resolution 1373. He finds that the CTC capacity-building program for combating terrorism also improves the effectiveness of targeted sanctions, such as travel bans, arms embargos, and financial sanctions. However, the speed of development remains low, and a long-term commitment is required to ensure success.

Ian Cameron takes another approach by looking at the lack of safeguards in relation to the application of targeted sanctions, and examining the problems that targeted sanctions raise in terms of legal accountability, human rights, use of intelligence material, and ECHR accountability. He suggests several improvements from the perspective of individual rights, sketching both the mechanisms and the necessary institutional requirements.

In attempting to find ways to improve the effectiveness of targeted sanctions, Erica Cosgrove explores the concept of travel bans, from their inception to implementation. She centers her analysis on two case studies — Liberia and Sierra Leone — and specifically on the psychological effects and behavioral changes correlated to those bans. Her findings reveal the possible negative impacts of travel bans, such as economic and reputational harm and unwanted restrictions in the event of a humanitarian emergency.

Changing the tone, Peter Wallensteen investigates the potential of "positive sanctions" (defined as incentives for achieving compliance). He provides a comparison of positive and negative sanctions based on a hypothetical development model, and explores the path towards a positive sanctions strategy, looking at both structure and agency.

3. Conclusion

Combining both theory and empirical study, International Sanctions provides a good review of the challenges inherent in the utilization of targeted sanctions, surveying existing trends in development and implementation, as well as new actors on the stage and their impact, and finally suggesting new institutional and procedural mechanisms for addressing criticisms. A balanced account, this scholarly work seeks to inform the international community's efforts to perfect its use of targeted sanctions.