UN Sanctions and Conflict: Responding to Peace and Security Threats

UN Sanctions and Conflict: Responding to Peace and Security Threats

UN Sanctions and Conflict: Responding to Peace and Security Threats

UN Sanctions and Conflict: Responding to Peace and Security Threats


This book examines the application of the UN Security Council's mandatory sanctions since 1946, and, in particular, the regimes adopted for specific types of conflict.

Beginning in the Cold War period with South Africa and Southern Rhodesia and continuing today, following the post-9/11 experience with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, sanctions are a key tool in the UN's efforts to deal with conflict. This book argues that the type of threat greatly influences the types of sanctions measures applied by the Security Council, who is targeted, as well as the objectives tied to the sanctions. The question of sanctions application is approached by classifying all 29 mandatory Security Council sanctions regimes into four conflict types: interstate; intrastate; international norm-breaking states; and support to terrorism. All of the sanctions regimes within each conflict type are analysed for: the objectives sought by the Council through the application of sanctions measures the targets chosen what measures are applied and in what sequence compared to other Security Council tools (such as peacekeeping missions or peace negotiations). The book sheds new light on how the Security Council approaches international peace and security beyond the application of force. Offering an excellent summary of the ins-and-outs of UN sanctions, and useful summary tables of UN sanctions regimes by conflict type, this book will be of great interest to students of international organisations, peace and conflict studies, conflict resolution, security studies and international relations or politics in general.


For the past 20 years economic sanctions, especially those imposed by the United Nations Security Council, have had a place of growing prominence in global governance. Yet few academics, and even fewer in the policy circles which legislate and implement sanctions, have focused their attention on the adaptations and trends that have evolved in this essential Security Council mechanism.

Herein lies the first contribution of this book. Andrea Charron details both the consistency of purpose and the logic of change across sanctions cases that have occurred in decades of Security Council action. She smartly documents and then interprets the rationale underpinning each sanctions case, as well as the linkages across cases. Moreover, she has classified these cases in a manner which explains to new sanctions analysts and hardened sanctions sceptics alike that Security Council policy in use of these coercive tools has more substance and direction than recent discussions in the press or policy acknowledge.

This book is most helpful at a second level because it provides an empirical base and wider context for answering two criticisms one often hears about sanctions. The first is that they are the imposition of actions by the strong against the weak, with the often unspoken nuance being that the sanctions are imposed rather arbitrarily. Inherent in this critique is that sanctions are disproportionately used in sub-Saharan Africa. The second critique, of course, is that sanctions simply don’t work.

Charron demonstrates that there are strong reasons why the Council has acted via sanctions in Africa, and it is certainly not that this tool comprises the new imperialism. Rather, the book demonstrates that Africa has been where the greatest threats to peace, especially as defined as conflicts threatening the human security of vulnerable populations, has occurred. Writing strong case descriptions and then a comparative analysis of the cases of sanctions imposed for conflict control and peacekeeping purposes, Charron makes, as no other account has done prior to this book, several central points. The Council has always imposed arms embargoes first, followed by targeted sanctions on actors and sectors, and then these are interactive – sometimes successfully and sometimes less so – with other Council responses. The latter have included the dispatching of full UN Missions and peacekeeping forces and Special Representatives of the Secretary-General.

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