Sanctions Success Is Possible But Not Common


July 15, 2008, 3:00 AM EDT
Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington, DC

Event Summary

The Peterson Institute released an updated edition of its classic study, Economic Sanctions Reconsidered, 3rd edition on July 15, 2008. The Peterson Institute has produced the definitive research on sanctions for 25 years. This revised edition by Gary Hufbauer, Jeffrey Schott, Kimberly Elliott, and Barbara Oegg analyzes the effectiveness of every sanctions case since World War I and offers updated policy recommendations for the 21st century.

Key findings of the book include:

  • Sanctions "succeed" in about one-third of cases overall.
  • Partial achievement of foreign policy goals is far more common than total achievement.
  • Diversified sanctions—a mix of trade and financial—are more successful than trade-only measures.

Key recommendations include:

  • Don't bite off more than you can chew. Policymakers need to have realistic expectations of what sanctions can accomplish.
  • Friends are more likely than foes to comply. Sanctions are most effective when aimed at allies and trading partners.
  • Beware autocratic regimes. Bullying bullies with sanctions is generally an ineffective strategy.

Event Materials

Book: Economic Sanctions Reconsidered, 3rd edition

Presentation: Economic Sanctions: New Directions for the 21st Century [pdf]

Selected case studies available online