The Sanctions & Security Research Program explores non-military means of enforcing international norms. For more than two decades, principal investigators George A. Lopez and David Cortright have worked with the U.N. Security Council, U.N. member state governments, and international agencies to reform and refine sanctions as an instrument of international law.

Lopez and Cortright have written 6 books, including the award-winning The Sanctions Decade, which established the team as leading authorities in the field of multilateral sanctions. They have contributed to the development of “smart sanctions” – penalties that focus on leaders responsible for offensive policies but that avoid harming civilians. 

In 2002, Cortright and Lopez analyzed UN reports and other sources that detailed which weapons had been identified and destroyed in Iraq. Their articles (“Disarming Iraq” in Arms Control Today, Sept. 2002, and “Containing Iraq: the Sanctions Worked” in Foreign Affairs, July/August 2004) demonstrated that sanctions had succeeded in dismantling the Iraqi regime’s weapons program. 

Lopez and Cortright have consulted with the UN and European Union on targeted sanctions as a tool of counterterrorism. Their recommendations are found in their co-edited volume, Uniting Against Terror: Cooperative Nonmilitary Responses to the Global Military Threat (MIT Press).

Lopez's and Cortright's work has been supported by the Fourth Freedom Forum, the MacArthur Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace, the W. Alton Jones Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs, the International Peace Academy, the Canadian Foreign Ministry, and various other governments.