In Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment, New War Drive

Venezuelans line up for water DW/Michael Fox

In recent decades, the US has increasingly used sanctions as an instrument of foreign policy. Some 39 nations1 and territories are under direct or indirect sanctions. Most of these sanctions are not authorized by the United Nations Security Council and many of them are enacted by the US alone. They are called “unilateral coercive measures” at the United Nations. These US decrees and legislation are “extraterritorial” when they assume the right to impose regulations, restrictions and penalties on non- US countries, companies and individuals.

By Rick Sterling, John Philpot and David Paul*

A report by the Sanctions Kill Coalition, September 2021
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*This report was produced by Rick Sterling, John Philpot and David Paul with support from other members of the Sanctions Kill Coalition and many individuals in sanctioned countries.

In recent decades, the US has increasingly used sanctions as an instrument of foreign policy.

Some 39 nations1 and territories are under direct or indirect sanctions. Most of these sanctions are not authorized by the United Nations Security Council and many of them are enacted by the US alone.
They are called “unilateral coercive measures” at the United Nations. These US decrees and legislation are “extraterritorial” when they assume the right to impose regulations, restrictions and penalties on non- US countries, companies and individuals.

There are many types of sanctions: economic or financial restrictions, trade prohibitions, and blocking or seizing assets of individuals, organizations and countries. Greatly increasing the reach of sanctions, “secondary sanctions”2 target non-US entities which are interacting with the “primary” target .

President Biden’s administration is currently reviewing US sanctions policy. On January 21, 2021, the first National Security Memo3 of the Biden administration called for a review whether US sanctions are hindering response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, administration leaders raised a second concern, saying4 “The goal of sanctions should not be to punish ordinary citizens for the actions of their leaders.” Then, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed a third concern that sanctions are undermining “the US’s leadership role in the global financial system.”

The Biden administration review of sanctions is being conducted by an inter-agency team including State and Treasury Departments. As of this date (mid-September 2021), they have not released the results of their review.

Because this issue is vitally important, a coalition of non-profit and human rights organizations called “Sanctions Kill5” has prepared the following report. The information and findings are the result of on- the-ground investigation in Syria plus questionnaires with citizens of some of the most severely sanctioned countries such as Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

The title of this report is “We don’t deserve this.” This is what a Syrian woman said when asked about the destructive impact of US sanctions on her country. The goal of this report is to inform North Americans about the real-life consequences of US imposed sanctions.

This report begins with our findings, then goes on to conclusions and recommendations. After that, there are quotes from some of the people interviewed and short synopses of the impact of sanctions in Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela.

The final section includes resources which will be of interest to anyone looking further into this topic.

SanctionsReport_v1

 

We invite your comments and collaboration.

Contact us at [email protected].

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