The importance and role of sanctions in diplomatic relations


In the discipline of diplomatic international relations, economic sanctions occupy a significant place. The civilian world saw these mechanisms as an alternative to avoiding war and military escalation. There is speculation that the history of the existence of sanctions dates back to antiquity, although functionally more workload dates back to the 20th century.  The League of Nations has developed a set of sanctions in various directions, aimed at maintaining world peace. The rulers believed that sanctions would guarantee the neutralization of the threat of war and that economic pressure would be formed into political concessions.

What are the economic sanctions, who has the power to use them and how effective are their impacts on the target countries?

There are two subtypes of economic activities:

International Comprehensive;

International Target (Smart);

The difference between them is radical. In the first case, the economic losses and crises of the sanctions imposed on the society living in the state alike are noticeable to all social strata.

While the negative effect caused by the enactment of the second type of sanction is experienced by the representatives of a specific political circle, the government or companies associated with the government. This type of sanction directly imposes restrictions / prohibitions on the freezing of assets, travel and luxury goods.

Statistically, in most cases, “smart sanctions” are used to influence the target state, in which both the object and the subject are precisely defined. During economic sanctions, measures such as a partial ban on trade in certain products or a full embargo are common.

An embargo is one of the strictest coercive measures of economic sanctions, according to which the trade in certain products is prohibited, in many cases the act is aimed at producing strategic importance, which causes significant damage to the target country. This form of pressure serves to achieve the purpose for which the sanctions were issued, the reason may be the unacceptable attitude of a country to a particular issue, conflict and strained relations with any state, and so on.

Sanctions have long been actively used as a tool to regulate and stabilize foreign relations in the modern world.

International organizations, such as the United Nations (UN) and the European Union, as well as individual states have the authority to establish them.

The viability and effectiveness of coercive measures are, in some cases, more effective with some states, and sometimes less effective. It depends on how big and large the sanctions are, how many states and organizations are involved. One of the prerequisites for achieving the desired goal is the sanctions imposed by many countries simultaneously, which increases the force of impact on the target object.

I will end the discussion on the importance of sanctions with the words of the former British Ambassador to the UN Jeremy Greenstock: “Sanctions are the golden mean between empty declarations and the declaration of war.”


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