CYIL Vol. 7, 2016

CYIL 7 ȍ2016Ȏ ARE UNILATERAL ȍECONOMICȎ SANCTIONS REALLY IMPERMISSIBLE… Most of them sent by individual states (especially by United States and Soviet Union/ Russia), but also many multilateral sanctions, imposed by the United Nations, European Communities/European Union). The team of authors led by Gary Clyde Hufbauer studies sanctions episodes from an international politics optic (not international law perspective); it focuses on their categorization, development and effectiveness. 14 They do not challenge the legality of these measures. Anyway, they observe the reality, they describe the fact that States employ sanctions (and usually call them “sanctions”). It is hard to imagine that such a widespread and long-lasting sanctions practice could support the conclusion about the unlawfulness of unilateral sanctions. Of course, the legal background of EU sanctions and US sanctions as well as of Russian sanctions is different from the case of UN sanctions and relies on EU treaties 15 and national legislation. However, the sole fact that it does not conform to the narrow interpretation of the UN Charter (in the sense that the Security Council did not authorize it) cannot be simplified to a strict pronouncement that unilateral sanctions are impermissible under international law. 16 3. Discussing the “collective punishment” effect of unilateral sanctions In 1997 a group of authors and editors (Thomas G. Weiss, David Cortright, George A. Lopez and Larry Minear) presented a book called Political gain and civilian pain: Humanitarian impacts of economic sanctions. They were assessing the influence of sanctions on the behaviour of sanctioned governments, on one hand, and the influence of sanctions on the life of the civilian population. Their conclusions were clear: comprehensive sanctions have largely negative implications for humanitarian action; they often worsened the suffering of those already affected by war or other serious difficulties, broadened the ranks of sufferers; in some cases sanctions transformed a situation of major humanitarian needs into a humanitarian crisis. 17 Similar findings were presented also in other publications and on international fora and led to international expert meetings in Interlaken (1998, 1999), Geneva (1999), Bonn (1999) and Berlin (2000). These meetings represent a milestone in the international sanctions practice; they have laid a border stone between traditional comprehensive trade sanctions and the new form or targeted measures (arms embargoes, financial sanctions, travel bans). 18 14 HUFBAUER, G. C. SCHOTT, J. J. and ELLIOTT, K. A. Economic sanctions reconsidered: History and current policy 3rd edition (Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington, DC 2007). 15 DRULÁKOVÁ, R. and ZEMANOVÁ, Š. (eds) (2012) 106. 16 However, this text is not intented as a defence or legal analysis of the legality of unilateral sanctions. The aim of the text is to discuss selected conclusions of Prof. Mohamad only. 17 WEISS, T. G., CORTRIGHT, D., LOPEZ, G. A. and MINEAR, L. (eds.) Political Gain and Civilian Pain: Humanitarian impacts of economic sanctions ( Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham 1997) 225. 18 To the background of the negotiations and their impact see STAIBANO, C. and WALLENSTEEN, P. (eds) International Sanctions: Between Wars and Words (Routledge, 2005).


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