Sanctions As A Foreign Policy Tool: The Humanitarian Consequences

Carrie Koester, California State University, Monterey Bay


Economic and trade sanctions are often utilized in foreign policy as they are seen as useful tools that aim to bring about change to the governments in which they are imposed upon. These sanctions include commercial or financial penalties on targeted countries, groups, or individuals by the sanctioning countries. They are often used to punish governments for human rights violations. The humanitarian effects of sanctions are often ignored or thought of as necessary for the greater good. How have economic and trade sanctions violated human rights in Iraq and Iran? When taking into account these violations and consequential crises, can they still be categorized as non-violent policy tools? Using qualitative analysis of archival data from Kokabisgahi’s study on the effects of access to medicine and health services in Iran after sanctions and articles and news retrieved from web-based databases such as JSTOR, this capstone will outline the adverse effects sanctions have had on access to medical treatment in Iran and malnutrition in Iraq due to food shortages. These finding indicate that the sanctions effect the most vulnerable populations in a country, such as women, children, and the poor.