- Alessandra Correa
- BBC News Brazil
Sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and other countries in response to the invasion of Ukraine are part of a long history of using penalties to enforce changes in the behavior of certain countries.
However, analysis of the types of measures adopted in the past shows that the objectives are not always achieved. In addition, in some cases, there is the risk of unintended consequences, which can be the opposite of what is desired, strengthening governments that want to be weakened, and adversely affecting human rights, democracy and other aspects. I have.
“If you look at modern history, you can see that sanctions are imposed every time one country violates an international treaty, invades another, or abducts a citizen of another.” Paolo Pasquariello, an economics scholar and professor of finance at the University of Michigan, told BBC News Brazil.
“But the (resulting) record is not very good. Over the last few decades, sanctions have been imposed on Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea, to name a few. But in my opinion they are. It did not give the expected results. “, Observe Pasquariello.
Studies show that only about one-third of sanctions are generally successful and achieve their goals. One of the most comprehensive recent analyzes on this subject has been conducted by researchers at Drexel University, based in the city of Philadelphia, to confirm this estimate.
Researchers have created a database containing information on 1,101 sanctions applied by countries, national groups, or intergovernmental organizations since 1950, many of which are still valid.
Sanctions are of type (trade, finance, military, weapons, travel, and other aid) and purpose (forced policy changes, destabilization of regime, prevention or termination of war, protection of human rights, restoration of democracy, It is classified according to the fight against terrorism and the solution). Above all, territorial disputes).
The next step is to analyze the degree of success measured by official government statements or “indirect confirmation in international press releases” and that these statements may be “subjective or biased”. It was to take into account.
Including still valid sanctions, it is estimated that about 30% of them are at least partially successful.
“Over time, more and more sanctions have proved to be partially or fully successful, suggesting that sanctions have become more effective in achieving goals,” the study said. ..
The use of various sanctions to punish the government or force it to achieve certain goals has been recorded, at least since ancient Greece, and has been adopted for centuries.
According to the analysis, the number of sanctions has been “continuously increasing and this increase has been accelerating since 2018” since the 1950s in the Drexel University database.
“We believe this trend is evidence of the growing popularity of sanctions as a means of compulsory diplomacy,” the researchers say.
On average, over 35% of all sanctions from 1950 to 2019 were imposed by the United States, the country that used this type of sanctions most often.The analysis also reveals a significant and continuous increase in EU and UN sanctions. [Organisation des Nations unies] Since the early 1990s.
There are several examples of countries subject to these sanctions during the analysis period. South Africa was subject to international sanctions during the apartheid era, a racial segregation regime implemented in the late 1940s and 1990s.
Cuba has been subject to economic sanctions imposed by the United States for 60 years. Iraq was subject to sanctions after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. North Korea and Iran have been sanctioned for their nuclear program.
Russia itself was already sanctioned in 2014 when it invaded Crimea, and many of the sanctions imposed on Russia at that time are still in effect.
According to the Drexel University database, economic and financial sanctions are the most commonly used.
Some of these measures are designed to be as specific as possible, punishing only certain individuals. However, many others, while being an alternative to military action, do great harm and suffering to the general public, including those who oppose the government.
However, despite the sometimes devastating consequences, sanctions fail to achieve their goals in about two-thirds of cases.
“Usually sanctions will affect the vast majority of people in these countries,” says Pasquariello of the University of Michigan.
“I think the purpose, if not explicitly stated, is to really harm the people of the (target) country.”
According to economists, the goal is to make the whole country understand that leaders think the countries imposing sanctions are wrong.
Current sanctions against Russia are believed to be unique in their scope and speed of adoption, just days after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, they differ from nuclear power in that they target countries that are not considered economic giants but play an important geopolitical role.
“Sanctions are usually imposed on small players in the region,” Pasquariello points out, pointing out that these countries are less important to the global economy.
“It’s different in Russia, which has a range and range that I haven’t seen in other sanctions in my 50-year life.”
Among the sanctions already in place are sanctions on banks, members of the Russian government and economic elites, including asset freezes, travel restrictions and the exclusion of major Russian banks from financial systems and communication systems used for international transactions. I have.
Other measures include restrictions on the import of oil, gas and coal from Russia, a ban on the export of various products to the Russian market, including luxury goods, taxation of imports of Russian products, and Russia in the airspace of some countries. Includes restrictions on the existence of aircraft.
Major private companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Starbucks have stopped operating in Russia.
These and other sanctions not only weaken and isolate Russia’s economic and financial system and its elite, but also affect the general public. The Russian currency, the ruble, is collapsing and the economy is collapsing.
“These are catastrophic sanctions that really hurt Russian citizens,” says Pasquariello.
“We’re talking about 145 million people, many of whom can’t withdraw money from banks.”
The effects of Russia’s economic crisis are expected to affect other parts of the world, as well as the overall rise in oil prices and their impact on inflation.
Success or failure
However, despite this effect, Russia continues its military attacks and it is unclear whether sanctions will help Ukraine.
Russia banned the export of certain products in retaliation, imposed sanctions on members of the US government, and threatened to nationalize the assets of companies withdrawn from the country. Others fear that the crisis will lead to deeper relations with China.
Pasquariello points out that it is always very difficult to predict whether a particular sanction will achieve its purpose.
Success or failure depends on a combination of different situations and factors. This includes the degree of economic integration between the target country and the rest of the world.
“Some may argue that certain sanctions imposed on Iran have slowed the progress of nuclear weapons development and brought the country to the negotiating table,” he said. I am quoting.
Sanctions on Iran have been lifted after a nuclear deal was negotiated under the Obama administration in 2015. His successor, Donald Trump, broke the agreement and resumed disciplinary action.
Earlier this year, current President Joe Biden, Trump’s successor, announced that he would ease sanctions in new negotiations on the deal.
Pasquariello compares Iran to North Korea, where international pressure has failed.
“North Korea has been isolated from the world for decades, and sanctions could not prevent the development of nuclear weapons,” he explains.
In the case of Russia, Pasquariello points out that a single factor cannot be analyzed alone. According to economists, the potential impact of sanctions should be considered in conjunction with other aspects.
“The Russians clearly overestimate their own military power, coupled with the fact that Ukraine is holding up more than expected,” he said.
“I think all of this creates a very volatile situation for (President Vladimir Putin) Putin and the people around him.”
According to Pasquariello, it is not yet known how Russia will react to this situation.
“Will she double (her position) or will she be in the negotiating table?” He wonders.