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UN Sanctions - Pointless Needles

Sanctions are one of the tools of the UN to achieve peacekeeping aims, but with developments in Iraq and Yugoslavia, they have proven to be rather ineffective.

In theory, sanctions can be a peaceful way to achieve the aim of controlling global troublemakers, being a successor of previous blockade politics in history before the UN even existed. But what was then a regional phenomenon, is now supposed to be a global initiative: All peace-loving nations of the planet turning their backs on those who won't share the dream of a peaceful union of nations. But as almost all blockades in history, UN sanctions, too, are the victim of national interests.

Sanctions are founded on the principle of trust, trusting partners caught between vague, abstract global ideals and solid individual interests, trusting them to uphold sanctions against their economic agenda. Sanctions are also founded on the idea that the blocked state will soon get weakened. Dictators, however, tend to use sanctions for uniting the people behind them.

As long as the UN are just perceived as an artificial superstructure, best (ab)used for gaining profits, better ignored when real concessions needed to ensue, as long as the UN are seen as a non-obligatory "parliament", a means to talk, not act, sanctions will be nothing but an annoyance for perpetrators. Furthermore, a lack of an exit strategy often leads to a weakening of the UN position.

Sanctions are also a means of hesitance, uttering a decent message to those who won't understand decency. Sanctions may speak out condemnation, but with their well-known flaws in mind, they are also a signal of weakness, exposing an organization not yet ready to take over a true leading role. Half-hearted means, however, are pointless needles if more severe consequences are spared, thus leaving the initiative to others.

September 14th / 24th, 2000 [HTML Version]

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