CYIL Vol. 7, 2016


CYIL 7 ȍ2016Ȏ

1. Term “sanctions” The word “sanction” has several meanings; e.g. approval, decree or penalty. Although on the national level there are no terminological issues (sanction means usually a reaction to law violation and is used in the meaning legal consequence), in international law we will find no definition nor any binding explanation of the term. The UN Charter, a respected foundation of current sanction practice of the United Nations, speaks about measures. There is also no relevant judgment of the International Court of Justice that would shine some light on the term ‘sanctions’. Under these circumstances, the burden of defining the term must be borne by scholars. And their perceptions may differ. Prof. Mohamad in his text presents at least three definitions of sanctions. 6 One is by Margaret Doxey (1972), that sanctions are “negative measures which seek to influence conduct by threatening and, if necessary, imposing penalties for non-conformity with law”. The second is by Nico J. Schrijver (1994) and it relates to collective or multilateral sanctions, which are defined as “collective measures imposed by organs representing the international community, in response to perceived unlawful or unacceptable conduct by one of its members and meant to uphold standards of behaviour required by international law”. 7 The third explanation is provided by Prof. Mohamad, and he deduces from Art. 39 of UNCharter that “unilateral sanctions often refer to economic measures taken by one State to compel a change in the policy of another State”. 8 There is one thing that these definitions have in common: the goal of sanctions. All three definitions tell us that the aim of sanctions is to influence or change the conduct of sanctioned state. Well, the strict interpretation of UN Charter definitely leads us to such a finding (in case of threatening the international peace and security the UN Security Council authorizes sanctions in conformity with art. 41 of the UN Charter to eliminate such a threat), but the current sanctions practice is more colourful. 6 Some arguments in his text relate to unilateral sanctions in general; some of them – e.g. in footnote 22 identified a quotation from the Appeal of International Progress Organisation – deal with trade sanctions only. 7 MOHAMAD, R. (2015) on p. 73 cites SCHRIJVER, N.J. ‘The Use of Economic Sanctions by the UN Security Council : An International Perspective’ in. HHG Post (ed), International Economic Law and Armed Conflict (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, London, 1994) 125. 8 MOHAMAD, R. (2015) 75; As a Secretary General of AALCO (Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization) Prof. Mohamad took the opportunity to present this narrow definition of sanctions also by other occasions. For example, during his speech at T. M. C. Asser Instituut in the Hague on 11 July 2013 he said, that: “in international affairs means a penalty imposed against a nation to coerce it into compliance with international law or to compel an alteration in its policies in some other respect. Legitimacy of sanctions under international law is applicable only to ‘multilateral sanctions’ which are applied as per Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.” MOHAMAD, R. ‘Unilateral Sanctions in International Law’ [2013] , accessed 27 May 2016.


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