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The present study explores how the introduction of targeted sanctions has transformed the practice of international organisations, looking at the examples of North Korea, Burma/Myanmar, Iran and Zimbabwe.

Although the ultimate effectiveness of the individual sanctions measures can hardly be ascertained, not least due to their co-existence with unilateral sanctions proactively enforced by the US, the analysis demonstrates that the character of sanctions measures, and the changing nature of the international system, has put the use of sanctions and isolation measures in different terms than was the case just a couple of decades ago.

While it is beyond the scope of this study to reframe the scholarly and policy controversies on the use of sanctions, it is posited that such debate should shift from the “whether” sanctions should be used to the “how” sanctions should be employed, and that the quality of the public debate would benefit from enhanced public awareness of the EU’s policies in this regard.

Finally, the study concludes that despite the absence of formal decision making powers over EU sanctions policies, the European Parliament can play a decisive role in their formulation building up on its proactive record in the scrutiny of EU foreign policy. It should enhance its contribution by requesting from the Council to report regularly on the design of sanctions, their use in negotiations with the target, their role in supporting reformists within the elites and the position of democratic forces, their conformity with human rights and their ultimate political efficacy.


sanctions, North Korea, Burma, Myanmar, Iran, Zimbabwe


Asian Studies | Defense and Security Studies | International Relations | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

Research Areas

Political Science


AFET FWC 2009 01 Lot 205

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European Parliament, Directorate-General External Policies

City or Country

Brussels, Belgium

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.