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Implemented by individual states, trading blocks, corporate organizations, or international governing bodies, sanctions define retaliatory and coercive measures against states or organizations that have perceivably engaged in illegal activities or breached established agreements. In some cases, sanctions may be used against states perceivably intending to breach international law. The most common international sanctions aim at hindering war, terror, and trade in illegal and dangerous merchandise like weapons, illegal drugs, and human organs. Recent examples of international sanctions include the 1998 to 2001 United States sanction against India to control nuclear proliferation, the 1997 to 2003 United Nations sanction against Sierra Leone to push for increased democratic practices, and the 1997 to 2003 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sanction on Liberia in support of the rebel group named Revolutionary United Front. The most common approaches of legality adopted by international sanctions include embargos against arms and illegal merchandise, asset freezing, financial prohibitions, withdrawal of state support and technical assistance, and restriction of imports and exports.
All international legal sanctions trace their sources to the breach of international law and expectations laid on individual states as members of the international community. These are defined by the responsibility for actions that endanger international peace and cause confrontations. Markedly, commissions or omissions by one state or groups of states result in these predicaments. While one state may extend unnecessary military aggression towards another, others may permit illegal activities within their borders. In the end, such illegal practices extend to their neighbors when citizens move into and out of the two states. Affected states may find it necessary to close their borders or scrutinize citizens going into and out of their country keenly until a time when the situation is considered to have normalized.
Asset freezing, financial sanctions, and embargos against arms occur as the first category of international sanctions. This is also extended to illegal trade and associated activities. The United Nations Act of 1945 and specially instituted economic and security acts from different states form the basis for asset freezing and arms-related embargos. Thus, any state can prohibit financial transactions and trade in arms with parties perceived to be involved in illegal war and terrorism. In their nature, these embargos encompass prohibiting individuals, organizations, or states from acquiring or delivering finances or merchandise to the affected parties. Additionally, freezing assets and banning travels for individuals associated with affected groups get implemented as a way of denying them access to fundamental provisions needed to perpetuate their plans.
Restricting international trade and prohibiting technical assistance are other effective approaches to implementing international sanctions. Under the international and individual state Import and Export Acts, international bodies and countries target economies of those states that breach international codes. This approach hinders the sale of specific products to the extent of affecting the targeted economy negatively. However, the United Nations Act of 1945 provides exemptions for products considered fundamental for the survival of humans in such sanctions. Examples of these include food, water, medical supplies, and supplies delivered for disaster relief. Other considerations in this category may include treaties and deals whose implementation commenced prior to the beginning of the sanction.
In conclusion, international sanctions define coercive measures taken against states and organizations that breach international codes of peace and mutual coexistence. Commonly, their goals include controlling war, terror, inhumane governance, and trade in illegal and dangerous merchandise. They use legally prohibitive and constricting measures that involve embargos against arms, banning of illegal merchandise, asset freezing, financial prohibitions, withdrawal of state support and restriction of imports and exports.
Bouchet-Saulnier, Françoise, Laura Brav, and Camille Michel. The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013.
Marossi, Ali, and Marisa Bassett. Economic Sanctions Under International Law: Unilateralism, Multilateralism, Legitimacy, and Consequences. The Hague, Netherlands: T.M.C. Asser Press, 2015.
Ryder, Nicholas. The Financial War on Terrorism: A Review of Counter-Terrorist Financing Strategies Since 2001. New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.
Smillie, Ian. Blood on the Stone: Greed, Corruption and War in the Global Diamond Trade. London: Anthem Press, 2010.
. Marossi, Ali, and Marisa Bassett. Economic Sanctions Under International Law: Unilateralism, Multilateralism, Legitimacy, and Consequences (The Hague, Netherlands: T.M.C. Asser Press, 2015), 1.
. Smillie, Ian. Blood on the Stone: Greed, Corruption and War in the Global Diamond Trade (London: Anthem Press, 2010), 18.
. Ibid., 57.
. Ryder, Nicholas. The Financial War on Terrorism: A Review of Counter-Terrorist Financing Strategies Since 2001 (New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015), 139.
. Bouchet-Saulnier, Françoise, Laura Brav, and Camille Michel. The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), 128.