THE NATURE AND CONTEXT OF SANCTIONS
6. The UN Charter defines sanctions as the "complete
or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea,
air, postal, telegraphic, radio and other means of communications,
and the severance of diplomatic relations"
with a nation that threatens international peace and security.
Sanctions can also, however, be targeted at various other entities,
ranging from individuals to regions as a whole. They can also
vary in scope, targeting different types of goods and services,
ranging from restrictions on flights or arms imports to restrictions
on all forms of economic and trade activity. The most wide-ranging
sanctions are "comprehensive economic sanctions" which
limit the transfer of all goods and services to the target state.
Since 1990 comprehensive economic sanctions have only been imposed
by the UN in three cases: Iraq, Haiti and Yugoslavia. Today only
those imposed on Iraq remain in place.
7. Sanctions can also be imposed by bodies operating
at a number of different levels: national, regional and international.
At a regional level, sanctions have been imposed by the EU, the
OSCE and by other, non-formalised groups of states, such as the
contact group in the case of Yugoslavia and regional heads of
governments in the cases of Burundi and Sierra Leone. At international
level, the most widely adopted sanctions are those imposed by
the United Nations.
8. The UN Security Council, under Article 41 of the
UN Charter, may call upon member states to apply measures not
involving the use of armed force in order to maintain or restore
international peace and security (i.e. to impose sanctions). The
UN not only imposes sanctions, adhered to by the majority of countries,
but also plays a leading role in the provision of humanitarian
relief to such targeted states. At times, these twin roles
of maintaining international peace and security, and its various
commitments to development and the upholding of human rights can
appear contradictory, a dilemma reflected in the Secretary-General's
1998 Annual Report on the Work of the Organisation, "The
international community should be under no illusion...humanitarian
and human rights goals cannot easily be reconciled with those
of a sanctions regime."
Specific proposals for improving UN sanctions regimes are discussed
3 UN Charter, Chapter VII, Article 4, http://www.un.org/Overview/Charter/contents.html Back
Kofi Annan, Partnerships for a Global Community, Annual Report
on the Work of the Organisation, 1998, UN, New York, p.21 Back