Political Gain and Civilian Pain: The Humanitarian Impacts of Economic Sanctions

Tom Weiss, Larry Minear, David Cortright, and George A. Lopez

Rowman and Littlefield, 1997

The use of sanctions is increasing in the post-Cold War world. Along with this increase, the international community must ask itself whether sanctions "work," in the sense that they incite citizens to change or overthrow an offending government, and whether sanctions are really less damaging than the alternative of war. Here for the first time, sanctions and humanitarian aid experts converge on these questions and consider the humanitarian impacts of sanctions along with their potential political benefits. The results show that often the most vulnerable members of targeted societies pay the price of sanctions, and that in addition, the international system is called upon to compensate the victims for the undeniable pain they have suffered. Well-chosen case studies of South Africa, Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, and Haiti illustrate how much pain the community of states is willing to inflict upon civilians in the quest for political gains. Together with an analytical framework and policy conclusions, this important book seeks to clarify the range of options and strategies to policymakers who impose sanctions and to humanitarian officials who operate in sanctioned environments.

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