SHOULD ALL TRADE SANCTIONS BE STOPPED?
To most of the world, sanctions are a mixed blessing. On the one hand, they reinforce trade rules and promote respect for them. On the other hand, they tend to undermine the principles of free trade and provoke a kind of ‘trade envy’(Charnovitz) in other international organizations.
Trade retaliation goes back quite a ways; we see examples of it in much of US law:
-Antidumping Act of 1916, which has seen little use.(Charnovitz)
-International Labor Organization, from the Treaty of Versailles 1919, which served as an international dispute system, but no economic measures were ever recommended until 2000, against Burma.(Charnovitz)
-UN Security Council, which handles breaches of peace, only used sanctions 3 times between 1920-1990, but now uses them much more frequently.(Charnovitz)
To understand the difficulty I have agreeing with the suggestion that all trade sanctions must be stopped, I feel it is important to discuss some of the good, the bad, and the ugly involved with imposing sanctions. I’ll start my discussion with some of the good that comes from restricting trade, move into some of the negative affects, and summarize with improvements I feel could be made to this defunct system.
The first advantage that comes to mind about imposing trade sanctions would have to be the ability of the sanctioning government to let everyone know how pissed they are, make their own people relatively happy, and then move on. Although this may only be temporary.(Charnovitz)
Individual countries, especially major world powers, like to impose trade sanctions even when the probability of forcing a change in the target country’s policy is small. In addition to indicating a resolution and suggesting their disapproval to the direct wrong doer and to other countries, politicians may also want to pose for their own people.(Library of Economics) If you look at the example of the US, European, and British sanctions against South Africa as well as US, European, and Japanese sanctions against China in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre, you can see that these were specifically designed to put their own citizens at ease, to make a moral and historical statement, and to send a warning to future offenders of international order. The effects on the specific target countries can almost be observed as secondary. World leaders often decide that the most obvious alternatives to sanctions are no good – military action would be too strong and diplomatic protests too weak. Sanctions can provide a satisfying dramatic display, but avoid the high costs of war.(Library of Economics) This isn’t to say that sanctions don’t cost a thing, just that they’re often less costly than the alternatives.
A second advantage to sanctions can be seen through foreign pressure...