US Leads Sanctions Killing Millions to No End

Posted on by

Yves here. This headline makes clear that the so-called Global South is not buying what the US and NATO are trying to sell, that it’s Russia’s fault that the world, and most of all developing countries. This continues to be a hot topic as the West seems to be turning the volume up on its diatribes against Russia as responsible for increasingly dire global hunger, as opposes to US sanctions.

There was tit for tat of sorts yesterday as Russia and non-Western media sources reported on a meeting between the Chair of the African Union, President of Senegal Macky Sall and Putin, where the food issue featured prominently. See our introduction to Michael Hudson’s latest post for sharply diverging press accounts. Putin appeared on Rossiya TV on June 3 and spent a fair bit of the interview addressing the global food crunch.

By Anis Chowdhury, Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University and University of New South Wales (Australia), who held senior United Nations positions in New York and Bangkok and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, who was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. Originally published at Jomo Kwame Sundaram’s website

Food crises, economic stagnation and price increases are worsening unevenly, almost everywhere, following the Ukraine war. Sanctions against Russia have especially hurt those relying on wheat and fertilizer imports.

Unilateral Sanctions Illegal

Unilateral sanctions – not approved by the UN Security Council – are illegal under international law. Besides contravening the UN Charter, unilateral sanctions inflict much human loss. Countless civilians – many far from target countries – are at risk, depriving them of much, even life itself.

Sanctions, embargos and blockades – ‘sold’ as non-violent alternatives to waging war by military means – economically isolate and punish targeted countries, supposedly to force them to acquiesce. But most sanctions hurt the innocent majority, much more than ruling elites.

Like laying siege on enemy settlements, sanctions are ‘weapons of mass starvation’. They “are silent killers. People die in their homes, nobody is counting”. The human costs are considerable and varied, but largely overlooked. Knowing they are mere collateral damage will not endear any victim to the sanctions’ ‘true purpose’.

US Sanctions’ Victims

The US has imposed more sanctions, for longer periods, than any other nation. During 1990-2005, the US imposed a third of sanctions regimes worldwide. These were inflicted on more than 1,000 entities or individuals yearly in 2016-20 – nearly 80% more than in 2008-15. Thus, the Trump administration raised the US share of all sanctions to almost half!

Tens of millions of Afghans now face food insecurity, even starvation, as the US has seized its US$9.5 billion central bank reserves. President Biden’s 11 February 2022 executive order gives half of this to 9/11 victims’ families, although no Afghan was ever found responsible for the atrocity.

Biden claims the rest will be for ‘humanitarian crises’, presumably as decided by the White House. But he remains silent about the countless victims of the US’s two-decade long war in Afghanistan, where airstrikes alone killed at least 48,308 civilians.

Now, the US-controlled World Bank and IMF both block access to financial resources for Afghanistan. The long US war’s massive population displacement and physical destruction have made it much more vulnerable and foreign aid dependent.

The six decade-long US trade embargo has cost Cuba at least US$130 billion. It causes shortages of foodmedicine and other essential items to this day. Meanwhile, Washington continues to ignore the UN General Assembly’s call to lift its blockade.

The US-backed Israeli blockade of the densely populated Gaza Strip has inflicted at least US$17 billion in losses. Besides denying Gaza’s population access to many imported supplies – including medicines – bombing and repression make life miserable for its besieged people.

Meanwhile, the US supports the Saudi-led coalition’s war on Yemen with its continuing blockade of the poorest Arab nation. US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have ensured the worst for Yemenis under siege.

Blocking essential goods – including food, fuel and medical supplies – has intensified the “world’s worst ongoing humanitarian crisis”. Meanwhile, “years of famine” – including “starving to death a Yemeni child every 75 seconds” – have been aggravated by the “largest cholera outbreak anywhere in history”.

Humanitarian disasters and destroying lives and livelihoods are excused as inevitable “collateral damage”. Acknowledging hundreds of thousands of Iraqi child deaths, due to US sanctions after the 1991 invasion, an ex-US Secretary of State deemed the price “worth it”.

Poverty levels in countries under US sanctions are 3.8 percentage points higher, on average, than in other comparable countries. Such negative impacts rose with their duration, while unilateral and US sanctions stood out as most effective!

Clearly, the US government has not hesitated to wage war by other means. Its recent sanctions threaten living costs worldwide, reversing progress everywhere, especially for the most vulnerable.

Yet, US-led unilateral sanctions against Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and other countries have failed to achieve their purported objectives, namely, to change regimes, or at least, regime behaviour.

Changing US Policy?

Although unilateral sanctions are not valid under the UN Charter, many US reformers want Washington to “lead by example, overhaul US sanctions, and ensure that sanctions are targeted, proportional, connected to discrete policy goals and reversible”.

Last year, the Biden administration began a comprehensive review of US sanctions policies. It has promised to minimize their adverse humanitarian impacts, and even to consider allowing trade – on humanitarian grounds – with heavily sanctioned nations. But actual policy change has been wanting so far.

US sanctions continue to ruin Iran’s economy and millions of livelihoods. Despite COVID-19 – which hit the nation early and hard – sanctions have continued, limiting access to imported goods and resources, including medicines.

A US embargo has also blocked urgently needed humanitarian aid for North Korea. Similarly, US actions have repeatedly blocked meeting the urgent needs of the many millions of vulnerable people in the country.

The Trump administration’s sanctions against Venezuela have deepened its massive income collapse, intensifying its food, health and economic crises. US sanctions have targeted its oil industry, providing most of its export earnings.

Besides preventing Venezuela from accessing its funds in foreign banks and multilateral financial institutions, the US has also blocked access to international financial markets. And instead of targeting individuals, US sanctions punish the entire Venezuelan nation.

Russia’s Sputnik-V was the first COVID-19 vaccine developed, and is among the world’s most widely used. Meanwhile, rich countries’ “vaccine apartheid” and strict enforcement of intellectual property rights – augmenting corporate profits – have limited access to ‘Western’ vaccines.

The US has not spared Sputnik-V from sanctions, disrupting not only shipments from Russia, but also production elsewhere, e.g., in India and South Korea, which planned to produce 100 million doses monthly. Denying Russia use of the SWIFT international payments system makes it hard for others to buy them.

Rethinking Sanctions

Economic sanctions – originally conceived a century ago to wage war by non-military means – are increasingly being used to force governments to conform. Sanctions are still portrayed as non-violent means to induce ‘rogue’ states to ‘behave’.

But this ignores its cruel paradox – supposedly avoiding war, sanctions lay siege, an ancient technique of war. Yet, despite all the harm caused, they typically fail to achieve their intended political objectives – as Nicholas Mulder documents in The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War.

As Cuba, Iran, Afghanistan and Venezuela were not major food or fertilizer exporters, their own populations have suffered most from the sanctions against them. But Russia, Ukraine and even Belarus are significant producers and exporters.

Hence, sanctions against Russia and Belarus have much wider international implications, especially for European fuel supplies. More ominously, they threaten food security not only now, but also in the future as fertilizer supplies are cut off.

With tepid growth since the 2008 global financial crisis, the West now blocks economic recovery. Vaccine apartheid, deliberate supply disruptions and deflationary policies now disrupt international economic integration, once pushed by the West.

As war increasingly crowds out international diplomacy, commitments to the UN Charter, multilateralism, peace and sustainable development are being drowned by their enemies, often invoking misleadingly similar rhetoric

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Joe Well

    I wonder how many First Worlders can get their heads around there not being enough food in existence.

    Like, not just a local bottleneck. If Ukrainian grain rots at port and the fields go unplanted, on top of droughts elsewhere, there will be nothing even the most ingenious innovator can do.

    No use for food drives or telethons (though we’ll surely have them). Assured mass death.

    1. voislav

      World produces enough food, the problem is how that food is being used. US used 40% of its corn production for ethanol production (~150 million tons). For comparison, Russia produces 80 million tons of wheat, Ukraine produces 40 million tons of cereals (wheat, corn etc). So redirecting US corn production from ethanol would easily make up the shortfall in Russia/Ukraine cereal production.

          1. Jonas

            In 2021 USA used 15 MMt of Corn for ethanol production.
            Russia, now sanctioned exported 36 MMt of Wheat and Ukraine exported around 18 MMt

            Apart from the fact Corn and wheat are not interchangeable 15 MMt can’t replace 54 MMt.

            Ethanol LOWERS the gas price, hence Biden wants to INCREASE the amount used in gas but “people say” it won’t be good for engines…

            1. MB dork

              Have you ever experienced a car with vapor lock? Too much ethanol isn’t a good thing on a hot day.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Recognizing that working people who depend on their cars will be disproportionately hurt by rising gas prices, I still have to ask, so what? At the risk of sounding flippant (and possible political ramifications aside), the rising price of gas in the US is low-impact compared to what people elsewhere in the world are facing.

          That the US makes the political decision to devote resources that should be used for growing food to a net energy-losing and fossil fuel-heavy product (!) like ethanol could be used as Exhibit A in the long list of US idiocies and shandas (shameful acts) that have harmed people around the world and made this country so disfunctional.

          1. JBird4049

            Well, as tens of millions of Americans are already food insecure to where they run out of money before the end of the month and if you can’t buy gas you can not get to work, which means more hunger and often homelessness; this usually falls on the poor, their children, and the elderly who are all the least powerful and most affected Americans.

            As one who has at times been forced to use the already poorly supplied and funded food banks pre Covid, which are still suffering from record levels of users including entire families, I have to ask just how well off those going hungry and often facing homelessness do you think these Americans are? I am sure that their children would love to hear the reasoning about why it not that important.

            Personally, as one who has suffered hunger to where my balance and my thinking was affected, I would think that the remarks are more than merely flippant. Further, the people imposing the sanctions do not care at all about how rising gas and fuel costs are harming their fellow Americans. If anything, they might be making money from doing so. Like when their stock in the Security/War State goes up from the various wars.

            1. Michael Fiorillo

              Which contributes more to hunger, here and in other countries, rising gas prices or the use of millions of acres of prime farmland and immense carbon-based inputs to produce a net energy-losing fuel?

              1. JBird4049

                Honestly, I do not know. Why does it matter? I do know that first income of most Americans’ income have not kept up with inflation with the disparity is greater the poorer they are for several decades. Say thirty to forty years. It is like with baby formula. Today, something like half the families with children have parents skipping meals. If you don’t have money, you don’t matter, you are invisible, and you and your suffering are just ignored. Until, that is, the pain starts to spread.

                Restated, this problem has been growing from during the last century with arguing over the causes. Long, long before the current supply and fuel shortages. So, why are we now talking about the causes now and just how is it the most vulnerable, those who are least amount of the problem, have any responsibility? This is just crazy.

                Or is the fact that the middle class, even the upper middle class, are finally getting hammered that some of the causes are being debated? This is what is bothering me.

      1. Jonas

        What you produce is irrelevant.
        China produce as much wheat as Russia (No No 3 in the world 86 MMt) and the USA (No 3 at 50 MMt) do COMBINED
        Much talk about Ukraine (No 8 in the world 25 MMt)

        What is of interest IS WHAT YOU DO NOT USE YOURSELVES, i.e. export.
        In this case the sanctions on Russia AFFECT the situation MUCH MORE than Ukraine, countries have difficulties to buy Russian wheat caused by the SWIFT sanctions.
        In short the west is “starving the world” to punish Russia.

        In regards to exports (2021)
        No 1 Russia 36.5 MMt
        Ukraine exported around 20 MMt

        So really whining about Ukraine and not caring about Russian exports is just stupid.

        As for switching the US corn from ethanol to food…
        Apart from the fact that it is not interchangeable AND that the USA needs the ethanol to keep gas prices “down” USA only used 15MMt of corn for ethanol production in 2021
        So NO it would not make up for the 56 MMt exported by Russia and Ukraine.

        Then of course you have next harvest…
        Ukraine, Belarus (sanctioned) and Russia (sanctioned) export most of the worlds fertilizer.
        Here the stats are “harder” since there are different types of fertilizer and they are NOT interchangeable.
        If you look at Potash Russia and Belarus represents close to 40% of world exports BOTH sanctioned.
        Easiest to see the effects is by looking at the price.
        Urea fertilizer is 4X the price YoY
        Potash is 3x YoY

        This is NOT just sanctions but it does not help.
        Poorer nations gets “priced out” while the ones with the sanctions can afford their stuff anyway.
        So 20% of the world (The west) is punishing 80% of the world (that does not sanction Russia) to punish Russia.
        Apart from the fact Russia do not care since the amount of money is small (10 days of oil and gas sales to EU) it is extremelly selfish and inconsiderate thing to do.

        1. RobertC

          Apart from the fact Russia do not care since the amount of money is small (10 days of oil and gas sales to EU) it is extremelly selfish and inconsiderate thing to do.

          Jonas — I’m confused who is extremely selfish and inconsiderate. Is it the West imposing sanctions on Russia and blocking Russia’s payment access via SWIFT or is it Russia for refusing to export it’s agriculture and mineral products for free.

          Please clarify. Thanks.

    2. Polar Socialist

      I’ve seen statistics that the rich countries waste about 20 to 40 percent of the food. People in developed countries also each 20 to 30 percent more calories than they need. Or, to put it another way, the top 17% of the planet (The World) “consume” as much food as the next 30%.

      I’ve also heard that the waste is probably bigger than the estimations.

      Anyway, since everyone needs food to sustain and procreate, the very fact that population is still growing is a sign that we (as a planet) haven’t reached the (human) sustainability limit yet. There’s of course many signs that we’re doing our best to lower that limit, too.

      1. Greg

        It’s a really interesting field of study. Research I’ve read showed the gap between production and consumption was not so different across the world, but it was for different reasons. In the developing countries, the waste is due to lack of refridgeration, transport, etc. Things that stop produce getting from the farm to where the bellies are. More is lost to preventable disease and avoidable weather problems.
        In the developed world, similar levels of waste occur but it is due to a large amount of produce being discarded at origin because it doesnt “look nice”, a bunch more wasted at point of sale through overstocking for appearances, and more wasted by consumers themselves because it is bought and taken home and never eaten.

  2. hk

    I always wondered if there is an omnipotence fantasy among sanctionistas, both pro and anti. Both generally agree that US is so “indispensable” that it’s sanctions do immense harm. The only point of disagreement is whether it’s ethical. The idea that, in some corners of the world, we might be so important that whether we sanction or not is irrelevant does not occur to either side. In this sense, the whole Russia sanctions must be infuriating to them. While this has been true up to a point even with lesser powers like Iran, this is probably the first time in a long while that the other side is potentially more indispensable than we are that there is a looming crisis creeping on US allies that joined the sanctions.

  3. David

    I really do wish somebody would tell Chowdhury to stop writing this nonsense about sanctions being illegal unless agreed by the UNSC. You don’t have to go farther than Wikipedia to be disabused of such a nation. That level of ignorance from a former UN official is astonishing.

    But his heart’s in the right place, you say? Maybe, but there are lots of good arguments against sanctions without resorting to bad ones.

    1. Lex

      I may have missed it, but two reads of the Wikipedia article you linked did not suggest your interpretation because it does not appear to speak on legality at all. It’s not a clear matter. For example this:

      From February 2022 (whole paper is available at link) and the paper suggests an unsettled legal matter. For example, “The EU consistently views the extra-territorial application of unilateral sanctions against European operators, including companies and natural persons, to be in violation of international law, and to ‘cause adverse effects on the interests of the Union and the interests of natural and legal persons exercising rights under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union’. Recently, the EU expressed concerns that trade as a soft power would be increasingly used as a weapon and as an ‘instrument of political competition’ by states, and it started to regard the use of unilateral extra-territorial sanctions as a challenge to its ‘strategic autonomy’ and its ‘economic sovereignty’.”

      It appears that the matter is not legally settled. That suggests that Chowdhury is over-simplifying the issue, but you are as well. What is clear is that the only fully recognized and legal sanctions under international law are those enacted by the UNSC. Perhaps Chowdhury should have qualified his statement with may be illegal, but perhaps Chowdhury’s phrasing is appropriate for lay readers in the West who’ve come to think of sanctions as a common tool of US foreign policy without any consideration for their legality.

      1. David

        I think these are two (or one and a half) different things. The article you link to is essentially about extra-territoriality, which is a sore point with a number of countries. It’s also about the US:

        “Its current unilateral sanctions regime against the country contains extra-territorial sanctions which prohibit non-US nationals and non-US companies from trading with and investing in Iran. Foreign legal and natural persons who do not comply with the US extra-territorial legislation are faced with a variety of limitations, including access restrictions, fines and penalties.”

        In other words, these are not sanctions as we normally perceive them, ie a country or countries restraining trade and contacts with another country by their own citizens or entities over which they have jurisdiction. They are an attempt to bully third countries into following US policies. I don’t see any evidence that that’s what the author was thinking of, and indeed it seems fairly clear to me that he wasn’t. I don’t see that this affects the general point that sanctions as ordinarily understood, ie targeting another country directly, are in any sense “illegal.”

    2. Carolinian

      Perhaps the point is not that it is illegal but that it should be. Your Wikipedia link says that embargoes are based on the common law doctrine of “distraint.” In other words if someone does you harm–failing to pay the landlord his contracted rent for example–you are entitled to sieze that persons goods as compensation.But the United States has expanded that doctrine to cover all notional harms as claimed by the United States. From a justice standpoint we are merely rationalizing “might makes right” which is something the UN and International Law were supposed to control.

      There has been talk of kicking Russia off the Security Council but surely the US is a far better candidate to get the rogue nation boot. Putin has even cited US actions as justifying his war on Ukraine.

      So yes the United States is not going to UN jail but as Michael Kinsley long ago said the real scandal is usually that which is legal rather than illegal.

      1. David

        I think we’re wandering slightly off the point. A lot of people have a lot of problems with the behaviour of the US. However, what’s at issue here is the statement by Chowdhury, that “Unilateral sanctions – not approved by the UN Security Council – are illegal under international law.” Nowhere does he seek to justify this extremely broad statement. Now consider a real-life case, that of Myanmar, which is currently being sanctioned because of human rights abuses. A guide to sanctions for exporters is here. from which we learn, for example, that the UK currently has

        “financial, trade, and immigration restrictions, including the prohibition on the export and transfer of military and communications technology and financial services to Myanmar.”

        Clearly, Chowdhury would say that the UK’s action is illegal under international law, and that, unless approved by the UNSC, the UK government is acting illegally in preventing its private companies from exporting, say, military technology to Myanmar. (IANA lawyer, but I have to say I can’t see how International law is relevant to the relationship between the UK government and UK companies, unless the UK has signed some convention, of which I am quite unaware). Now you can argue – you presumably would – that governments should not have any rights to pass and enforce such domestic legislation over private companies within their jurisdiction without a UNSC mandate. But that’s an aspiration, whereas Chowdhury seems to presenting it as an already-established fact.

        1. Carolinian

          But the US is a much bigger bigfoot than the UK and claims the right to conduct secondary sanctions that spread the effect of its claimed boycotts to other nations and their relationship to the target. Trump and Pompeo don’t like Venezuela and suddenly Europe is also declaring Guido the true president. It flies in the face of the whole concept of the UN where countries are not supposed to be able to declare themselves exceptional and makers of the rules that apply to everyone else. So no it’s not illegal but it’s wrong or should be seen as so by that organization that is being undermined. Kick us out why don’t they? The imperial we have seemingly substituted NATO for the UN anyway.

          The headline of this post says it all. The US is killing millions. Turns out there is no global sheriff to arrest us but that doesn’t mean we aren’t acting like criminals.

          1. IsabelPS

            “So no it’s not illegal but it’s wrong or should be seen as so by that organization that is being undermined.”
            So, why on Earth cite an article that lies? Few things drives me more mad than using bad arguments to defend good positions. If they are GOOD, there should be good arguments to defend them.

  4. Watt4Bob

    It seems to me that there has been an extensive ‘Brain-Drain‘ going on for some time in both government and military, with the most competent and intelligent running for the exits, and a deepening mediocrity taking their place.

    That mediocrity doesn’t seem to bother the oligarchs since what ever they want is A-OK with the mediocre.

    The problem in a sense, is the mediocre having no understanding that their mediocre solutions do not, and can not help make things better, and in fact, the mediocre no longer understand that ‘making things better‘ is their job.

    The mediocracy is perfectly content to accept the notion that “Hurting Russia” is a sensible task, and that sanctions are a sensible option, with no thoughts about why, or who benefits?

    And the mediocre ‘TEAM‘ is certainly not thinking about “Who else might get hurt?”

    1. JBird4049

      >>>>That mediocrity doesn’t seem to bother the oligarchs since what ever they want is A-OK with the mediocre.

      It is more than that. The oligarchs put the mediocre especially the politicians in place so that they would get what they wanted to start with; now that governments are increasingly incapable of doing anything, the elites complain about how the politicians are foolish and governments are incompetent with anything including climate change. I think that this what they call shooting yourself in the foot.

      This metastasizing goo (blob?) of thoughtlessness, stupidity, mendacity, duplicity, arrogance, and greed has gotten into the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex as well as the national Police State, which explains why the United States keeps losing all its wars and the clearance for crimes, including for murder and rape, has gone down while the police, through civil asset forfeiture, steal more from the (often never charged) members of the public than actual robbers and burglars. Then there is Uvalde.

      I often think and fear what the security or police state might do to we Americans, but then I compare our modern security state to the Dulles Brothers and J. Edgar Hoover, or our politicians to FDR, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, and even Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, I almost have to laugh. Nobody is their equal today. IIRC, the same is found throughout the federal government as well as California’s state and local governments.

      There are some very good people scattered around, but they are drowning in the goo. What little competence is left is propaganda, stealing, coups and most of all staying in power by co-opting any honest reform movements, NGOs, non-profits, politicians, and leaders.

  5. Darthbobber

    The nature of “sanctions” as practiced by the United States has also been steadily expanding. Secondary sanctions to punish third countries and non-US corporations who do business with the sanctioned entity. And more recently the outright seizure of funds belonging to the sanctioned countries.

  6. Jason Boxman

    Meanwhile the NY Times had a story the other day with a headline alluding to the audacity of the Russians to sell Ukrainian wheat to the world… My thought? Good. After all they could just leave it to rot or burn it. Russia’s having a bumper crop and doesn’t need it, but the world surely does.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Well, when they “Russians” they actually mean companies like Trading House RIF, Aston, Viterra, Cargill Inc. and Louis Dreyfus Co – only two first are Russian.

      Considering that in April Russian wheat exports tripled compared to last year, I don’t see a specific need to sell Ukrainian wheat, unless of course the Ukrainian producers have no other way to get their grain to the market…

      1. Watt4Bob

        It’s in no one’s interest to harm Ukraine’s grain production.

        I would guess that the easiest way to assure Ukraine keeps up wheat production, which is in Russia’s interest, is to allow them to sell what they have on hand.

        So, I believe the Russians when they say they’ll allow shipment once the Ukrainians de-mine.

        1. Greg

          Pat Lancaster in the last day posted an interview with a wheat farmer in Kherson. His problems were many and multiplying, but I noted a few that were interesting to me –
          1) Lack of diesel, well understood
          2) Broken irrigation systems, probably fixable in short term
          3) Roundup availability
          4) Problems with unharvested fields producing megaweeds

          Number 3 and 4 really piqued my interest. It looks like at least this wheat farmer in Kherson is practicing very North American wheat farming techniques, reliant on roundup ready crops doused in excessive amounts of glyphosate on the regular. As soon as roundup stops being available, or the farmer gets distracted by a war going on, you get super weeds. The remnant weeds after regular dousing are more likely than not resistant and tough, and when they take over they are a nightmare.

          Another interesting note was that they were practicing no intercropping, just heavy fertiliser application. The ground is left bare and then fertilised and roundup’ed heavily with the wheat planting, no cover crops or rotation. That soil is likely useless if the fert stops coming.

    2. Lex

      One wonders if these reports are talking about Ukrainian wheat or “Ukrainian” wheat, since any harvests from the DNR, LNR, Kherson or Crimea aren’t really Ukrainian wheat anymore. Although I’m sure that Kiev considers that wheat theirs.

  7. Dave in Austin

    Ok, show me a citiation saying that national sanctions are illegal under international law unless approved by the UN (Security Council or General Assembly?).

    1. David

      Yes, I’d like to see that. Somebody had better tell the EU: they’ve been imposing sanctions for decades.

      1. AGR

        There seems a lot of abstract vagueness in the use of “national” and “international”. If meaning emerges from context, then in a context of “international” “legality”–Can sanctions placed without the justification of “national” self-defense, usually for gaining resource control and subjugation be considered acts of aggression? If so, then at what point do acts of aggression become acts of war, and consequently wars of aggression?

    2. Lex

      The only clearly legal sanctions regimes are those enacted by the UNSC. Any others are in a grey area of international law that appears to be under an ever-evolving interpretation of case law. But Chowdhury is probably closer to the truth for a non-detailed explanation for lay readers than any argument that unilateral sanctions are legal under international law.

    3. Ignacio

      I guess any country can take unilateral sanctions without UN recognition. But the extent and kind of sanctions taken against Russia, in particular the theft of reserves, could probably be challenged with success if readily neutral international courts exist. So there is a strong smell of illegitimacy.

Comments are closed.