Richard Garfield



Economic Sanctions, Humanitarianism, and Conflict After the Cold War

Garfield examines political and humanitarian problems in approaches to sanctions and war. The article describes how economic sanctions, which as a matter of policy eschew the direct use of deadly force, still cause a disproportionate and deadly impact on the most unfortunate and powerless within targeted societies. By comparing and contrasting the design and effects of sanctions in countries such as Iraq, Cuba, and Haiti, the author raises questions for the world community to consider when summoned to support alleged “non-lethal” methods of interstate coercion. He describes how sanctions lead to widespread impoverishment of civilians while leaving supposedly targeted leadership groups more firmly in control than before. The article raises a central question: When carrying out globally sanctioned methods of coercion short of outright warfare, how can state compliance with norms of international law and behavior, including a respect for human rights, be encouraged? It suggests that sanctions-related damages could be reduced by improving the selection of what to sanction, the ways in which they are implemented, the goals for policy change, and the protections against widespread unintended impacts.

economic sanctions, humanitarianism, human rights, Cuba, Iraq, Haiti

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 29, No. 3 (2002): 94-107