Do economic sanctions work?



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Do economic sanctions work? 2

On October 11, Daniel Russel, top US diplomat for East Asia, said he was confident the UN would make “significant” progress in tougher sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear programme. But while the sanctions keep getting tougher, Pyongyang shows no sign of ending its nuclear tests. Economic sanctions have been a core weapon in the diplomatic arsenal of world powers for decades, but their effectiveness remains controversial, with a number of studies suggesting they have only worked in 4% of cases. The sanctions imposed on South Africa, for example, are credited with helping end apartheid, but on the other hand sanctions against Cuba have done little more than bring misery to its people, whilst its government endures. Sanctions against Russia have yet to stay Vladimir Putin’s hand in Syria and may have hardened domestic support for him. Sanctions may have eventually helped bring Iran to the negotiating table, but they also led to dire short shortages of life-saving medicines such as chemotherapy drugs, fueling the black market and skyrocketing prices. Are sanctions, then, just a convenient tool for politicians reluctant to go to war to be seen to be doing something? Or, if properly enforced, are they a useful way of bringing rogue states into line?

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