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Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism: Defining Success

Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism

<< Table: Summary of economic sanctions episodes, 1914–2006

Defining Success of Economic Sanctions Episodes

The success score (success) is the product of two judgmental indices: policy result (result) and sanctions contribution (contr). The authors created an index system to measure these two elements: (1) the extent to which the foreign policy result (result) sought by the sender country was achieved, and (2) the contribution to success (contr) made by sanctions, independent of other policies such as covert measures or military action. Each index is scaled from 1 to 4, and each index value reflects the authors’ qualitative judgment, as described below.

Policy result (result)

Index value of 1: Failed outcome
Index value of 2: Unclear but possibly positive outcome
Index value of 3: Positive outcome, meaning the sender’s goals were partly realized
Index value of 4: Successful outcome meaning that the sender’s goals were largely or entirely realized

Sanctions contribution (contr)

Index value of 1: Net negative contribution to the outcome
Index value of 2: Little or no contribution to the outcome
Index value of 3: Substantial contribution to the outcome
Index value of 4: Decisive contribution to the outcome

The two elements are multiplied to obtain the success index, scaled from 1 to 16. A success score of 9 or higher is characterized as a successful outcome. For example, a score of 9 means that sanctions substantially contributed to the goals the sender country sought and that the goals were in part achieved. A score of 16 means that sanctions made a decisive contribution to an outcome that largely or entirely matched the sender country’s goals. By contrast, a score of 1 indicates that the sender country clearly failed to achieve its goals or that sanctions even distracted from achievement of the announced foreign policy goals.

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