Latest News

U.N. secretary-general endorses Kroc Institute work on sanctions

Author: Arts and Letters

Notre Dame’s influence at the highest levels of international policymaking was evident Monday (April 30) at United Nations headquarters in New York.

A daylong symposium on “Enhancing the Implementation of Security Council Sanctions,” organized and led by Kroc Institute faculty George Lopez and David Cortright, drew more than 120 Security Council ministers and personnel.

New U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (who succeeded Kofi Annan in January) began the symposium by expressing his support for “smart sanctions” – a concept that Lopez and Cortright have researched and worked with the Security Council to refine for more than a decade. Sanctions work best when they include “carrots along with sticks – not only threats, but inducements to elicit compliance,” said Ban, affirming the central finding behind Lopez and Cortright’s latest research on this subject.

Funded by Greece, the symposium allowed Lopez and Cortright to invite diplomats from around the world who have been involved in the successful implementation of sanctions in Angola, Libya, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire. Of the four academic experts presenting research on the nature and scope of targeted sanctions, three were Kroc Institute faculty members – Lopez, Cortright and Peter Wallensteen. The fourth was Sue Eckert of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

The symposium was especially relevant as the Security Council is currently debating whether to impose additional sanctions against Iran for uranium enrichment and against Sudan for actions leading to genocide in Darfur. Among the U.N. ambassadors asking questions of the panelists were those from Iraq, Sudan and Libya.

Smart sanctions are alternatives to military intervention in situations where international actors must be pressured to halt genocide, terrorism, gross violations of human rights, arms proliferation and the development of weapons of mass destruction. Unlike the “blunt instruments” of previous years, smart sanctions sharply target “decision-making elites” – by freezing their financial assets, restricting their travel or shutting down the sale of petroleum, timber and diamonds – while avoiding harm to innocent people.

As a coercive measure that stops just short of military force, smart sanctions offer an effective option “between words and war,” according to Wallensteen.

“David Cortright and George Lopez, eminent experts on multilateral sanctions who are here with us today, have identified several cases in which sanctions resulted in partial compliance with the council’s demands or helped to bring conflicting parties to the bargaining table,” Ban said.

He added that “there is ample evidence that sanctions have enormous potential to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security when used not as an end in themselves, but in support of a holistic conflict resolution approach that includes prevention, mediation, peacekeeping and peace building.”

Originally published by Joan Fallon at on May 03, 2007.