Economic sanctions

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A selective tool that can used by central or local spheres of government and their corresponding organs[1] in the fields of trade, finance or public procurement, or could even be applied in civil initiatives with cross-border implications. Economic sanctions could be applied against a particular state (or states), or even against domestic regions or groups within an affected state’s jurisdiction or territory of effective control.[2]

Within the realm of economic sanction, two types are most common. These include:

Financial sanctions, which involve monetary issues and transactions, in general. More specifically, financial sanctions could take the form of blocking government assets held abroad, limiting access to financial markets and restricting loans and credits, restricting international money transfers, restricting the sale and trade of property abroad, and/or freezing development aid[3]; and

Trade sanctions, which restrict imports and exports to and from the target country. These restrictions can be comprehensive, as was the case with sanctions against Iraq (1990–2003), or selective, restricting only certain commodities often connected with a trade dispute.

Obviously, financial and trade sanctions may overlap significantly, especially in the case of comprehensive sanctions. For example, where foreign assets may be frozen and access to new funds blocked, governments would be unable to pay for imports, thus affecting trade. Coinciding, too, may be other types such as travel sanctions; military sanctions, affecting trade in matériel and military activities; diplomatic sanctions; and cultural sanctions, encompassing artistic, education and athletic exchanges. These may form ancillaries or subcategories of economic sanctions when applied simultaneously with trade and financial sanctions.

(See also Sanctions, more generally)


[1]   Joseph Schechla, "Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations of Local Government,” Local Authorities in support of Palestinian rights, at: https://www.stopthewall.org/local-authorities-support-palestinian-rights.

[2]   In 2019­­–2020, note, for example, the internet blackout, movement restrictions and trade embargos that India has applied in the regions of Kashmir that it occupies. By analogy, Israeli occupation forces have banned the export of agricultural produce from the West Bank of Palestine.

[3]   Swiss Federal Office for Foreign Economic Affairs, Interlaken Expert Seminars I and II on Targeting United Nations Financial Sanctions, 17–19 March 1998, at:

     file:///C:/Users/danger/AppData/Local/Packages/Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/Downloads/Report%2520on%2520the%2520Expert%2520Seminar%2520on%2520Targeting%2520UN%2520Financial%2520Sanctions,%252017.%2520-%252019.03.1998%2520(Interlaken%20(1).pdf and 29–31 March 1999, at:

     file:///C:/Users/danger/AppData/Local/Packages/Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/Downloads/Report%2520on%2520the%25202nd%2520Interlaken%2520Seminar%2520on%2520Targeting%2520UN%2520Financial%2520Sanctions%252029-31%2520March,%25201999%2520(%20(1).pdf.

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