Solutions to Violent Conflict

Archive for the ‘Sanctions and Security’ Category

UN Sanctions as a Tool for Preventing Atrocities

In Mass Atrocities, Sanctions and Security on May 17, 2018 at 9:13 am

George A. Lopez

United Nations Security Council sanctions continue to be used frequently to address a range of peace and conflict issues, from nuclear nonproliferation to the prevention and settlement of armed conflict. UN sanctions have also been utilized for atrocity prevention purposes, as illustrated in the cases of Côte d’Ivoire and Libya. In this essay I describe the sanctions policy instruments available for atrocity prevention and discuss the requirements for making sanctions work more effectively.

Sanctions have different applicability whether the target is a repressive national government, with officials who work for or support that government as individuals (and are thus judged responsible for atrocities), or the target concerns nonstate actors in violent extremist groups, death squads and militias. Below are some of the specific policy measures that can be applied as part of a political strategy to prevent mass atrocity crimes. Read the rest of this entry »

If You Think War with Iran Is the Answer, Think Again

In Iran, Nuclear disarmament, Sanctions and Security on October 8, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Mary Ellen O’Connell

Mary Ellen O’Connell is the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law and Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

Opponents of the Iran nuclear deal have attacked the treaty in part by claiming there are better alternatives. They argue they can get a better treaty by re-imposing tough sanctions, and some even claim that military force could be used instead of a treaty to eliminate the nuclear program. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew made it clear in a New York Times op-ed in August that new sanctions are a non-starter. Other countries are unlikely to join the U.S. in re-imposing sanctions. More sanctions will hurt the U.S. with little chance of persuading Iran.

That leaves military force. Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly explained his vote for the treaty by saying he wanted to try diplomacy before going to war: “With or without this deal, the day may come when we are left with no alternative but to take military action to prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Iran Deal: Not Perfect, but the Best Possible

In Iran, Nuclear disarmament, Sanctions and Security on October 8, 2015 at 12:20 pm


Michael C. Desch

Michael C. Desch is Professor of Political Science and Co-director of the Notre Dame International Security Program.

Winston Churchill famously said of democracy that it was the worst form of government except for all the others. The same could be said of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran to contain its nuclear program.

The critics have a point. The JCPOA does not eliminate forever the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon. It does nothing to hinder Iranian support for groups many Americans regard as terrorists—particularly Lebanon’s Hezbollah or various radical Shia groups in Iraq. And it does not break the power of the mullahs and unleash the Iranian masses yearning for freedom. Read the rest of this entry »

Success through Sanctions

In Iran, Nuclear disarmament, Sanctions and Security on October 8, 2015 at 12:20 pm

David Cortright

David Cortright is Director of Policy Studies for the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

The Iran nuclear deal resulted in part from the effective use of multilateral sanctions to apply persuasive pressure on Iran to limit its nuclear program. By combining sanctions with incentives the United States and its partners were able to engage Iran in a bargaining process that led to a diplomatic agreement. If successfully implemented the Iran deal could serve as a model for the use of sanctions in other cases to achieve international policy objectives.

The United States has maintained a wide range of sanctions on Iran since the 1980s, but these unilateral sanctions had little effect on Tehran since the regime was able to find other markets and suppliers. The imposition of multilateral Security Council sanctions in 2006 was more serious and proved decisive in convincing the regime to come to the bargaining table. Especially worrisome for Iran was the vote of Russia and China in favor of targeted UN sanctions. Tehran recognized that it was now isolated diplomatically and that it would face increasing economic pressures to comply with the Council’s nonproliferation demands. Read the rest of this entry »

Suspending Sanctions: A Strategy for Reaching a Nuclear Agreement with Iran

In Iran, Middle East, Nuclear disarmament, Sanctions and Security on September 18, 2013 at 11:36 am

George A. Lopez and David Cortright

In light of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration and his declared intention to enhance transparency and improve relations with the international community, a new and significant opportunity exists to end the nuclear standoff with Iran.

The core objectives of the international community are to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and to guarantee that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes. This can be accomplished by convincing Tehran to accept binding limits on its nuclear program and robust monitoring mechanisms to guarantee the absence of military-related activities.

Iran may be willing to accept greater transparency and limits on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions. The United States could help to make this possible by offering an initial suspension of sanctions on non-military goods and services. The U.S. could urge the European Union to adopt a parallel suspension. Read the rest of this entry »

Negotiating with North Korea: The Current Context

In North Korea, Nuclear disarmament, Sanctions and Security on March 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Stephen W. Bosworth

I have been dealing with North Korea since the 1990s, when we tried to implement the Agreed Framework, and later when I served as the U.S. Ambassador in Seoul. When I returned to active service as the Special Representative to North Korea in 2009-2011, I observed fundamental differences between what it was like trying to deal with the nuclear issue in the 1990s and what it is like now.

The most significant difference is that North Korea can now claim, with some degree of credibility, that it possesses nuclear weapons. Pyongyang has not said how many weapons it has or whether it can deliver them, but it undoubtedly has nuclear weapons. This has changed the way we try to deal with the North and how other countries in the region try to deal with them. Read the rest of this entry »

Sanctions and Incentives in North Korea: A Challenging Environment

In North Korea, Nuclear disarmament, Sanctions and Security on March 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm

"We have nuclear weapons," ceremony in North Korea. (Michael Day/Flickr)

George A. Lopez

The new North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has come to power in a fledgling nuclear state that thus far has resisted pressures from the West and the Security Council to denuclearize. As he scans the political horizon, Kim may arrive at several conclusions about his inherited situation that affect how he thinks about his options. Read the rest of this entry »

Reciprocal Bargaining: The Best Hope for Denuclearization

In North Korea, Nuclear disarmament, Sanctions and Security on March 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm

David Cortright and Linda Gerber-Stellingwerf

The history of nonproliferation teaches that nations must be persuaded rather than forced to give up nuclear weapons capability. This is a difficult challenge with a regime as truculent as North Korea, where the primary U.S. policy is one of isolation and sanctions. The success of sanctions depends not on their severity but on how they are mixed with incentives as part of a diplomatic strategy.

Over the decades more than two dozen countries have decided not to acquire or maintain weapons of mass destruction. Security assurances and positive inducements played an important role in most of these nonproliferation decisions. Read the rest of this entry »

Protecting Civilians While Discrediting Terrorism

In Civil-military relations, Counterterrorism, Sanctions and Security, War on September 20, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Robert C. Johansen

International law and time-honored ethical traditions prohibit the targeting of noncombatants. Yet in most recent conflicts, more civilians have been killed than soldiers. What can we do to increase the influence of legal and ethical norms supporting civilian immunity in order to reduce civilian casualties and delegitimize terrorism, which routinely targets civilians? Here are five recommendations:

1. Bolster the traditional distinction between combatants and noncombatants.

Noncombatants usually are not engaged in any direct violence against which adversaries need to protect themselves. But terrorists may deny that the noncombatants they target are innocent. Government officials sometimes select military targets that result in civilian casualties (so called “collateral damage”). Despite these realities, most people in conflict zones, including children, mothers, and the elderly living at home, qualify for immunity according to international law. Read the rest of this entry »

From Civilian Immunity to Just Peace

In Civil-military relations, Counterterrorism, Sanctions and Security, War on September 20, 2010 at 3:03 pm
Iraqi Freedom

U.S. soldiers question civilians during the search for three missing soldiers in Yusifiyah, Iraq. Photo: U.S. Army (Flickr)

Maryann Cusimano Love

General David Petraeus was in the hot seat during his Senate confirmation hearings in Washington this summer, and it had nothing to do with the heat wave outside.

While senators were confirming Petraeus as commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, they criticized the tactical guidance issued last year ordering greater restraint of U.S. forces to protect against civilian deaths. Although it was the deadliest summer for U.S. troops in nine years of war, some senators and media commentators were complaining about limitations on air strikes. Read the rest of this entry »