Just economic sanctions? (Breakfast seminar) – Peace Research Institute Oslo
OWhen are economic sanctions justified and when do their human costs outweigh their benefits? In this seminar breakfast with Bashshar Haydar (AUB) and commentatorswe will approach this question through a combination of philosophical analyzes and recent examples such as Afghanistan and Venezuela.
Registration deadline: September 14, 2022
Breakfast served from 08:45
- Chair: Kristoffer Liden (PRIO)
- Goodcome. Maria G. Jubert (PRIO)
- Key note:
- Economic Sanctions: A Moral Topology. Bashchar Haydar (American University of Beirut). Introductory note on the factors and characteristics that play a role in grounding our judgments about the ethical justifiability of economic sanctions.
- Venezuela and the Dark Side of Sanctions in a Divided World. Benedict Taurus (Center for Development and Environment, University of Oslo)
- Effects of international sanctions against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Arne Beach (Christian Michelsen Institute), online.
- Sanctions statistics and impact on women. Anna Marie Obermeier (PRIO)
- Questions and answers
- Final remarks. Lars Christie (Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences)
Economic sanctions on trade and finance are being used as a weapon of war in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and supporting these sanctions is generally seen as a moral obligation. According to the Global Sanctions Database, economic sanctions often achieve their political goals, at least partially. In Syria, economic sanctions are a way to hold the Assad regime accountable for its atrocities but prevent reconstruction at the expense of the people. Meanwhile, heavy economic sanctions against the Taliban regime are taking a heavy humanitarian toll on the Afghan people. The United Against Inhumanity campaign to release frozen funds from Afghanistan recently stated: “It is morally, politically and economically wrong to make the Afghan people pay – often with their lives – for a crisis that is not his fault. Similar criticisms have been leveled against the ongoing sanctions in Venezuela.
As a current member of the United Nations Security Council, Norway is involved in decisions on a range of international sanctions regimes and chairs the sanctions committees against North Korea (DPRK) and Isil (Daesh) and Al-Qaeda, in addition to being pen on the Afghanistan file and the Syria humanitarian file. Norway is also taking a stand on a series of sanctions without a UN Security Council mandate, such as on Russia and Venezuela.
The use of international sanctions has increased steadily since 1950 (Figure 1, Global Sanctions Database) and sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council have increased dramatically since the end of the Cold War. Despite this, little attention has been paid to how sanctions regimes should be ethically assessed. As an alternative to war, economic sanctions are among the few coercive instruments available to states. When adopted at the multilateral level, they can be used to uphold international law. When states use them without a UN mandate, it is generally preferable to military means. Yet economic sanctions are often criticized as being disproportionately harmful or lacking in effect – even counterproductive – even when labeled as “smart sanctions”.
There is obviously no universal answer as to whether economic sanctions are morally right or wrong, as it depends on the circumstances. Yet when we consider particular cases, we inevitably operate with general theoretical assumptions that require critical examination.
The seminar is organized in collaboration with the Norwegian Center for Humanitarian Studies (NCHS) and was supported by the Humeval program of the Research Council of Norway.