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Sanctions: Financial, Humanitarian And Socioeconomic Genocide

This spirit engendered a mechanism of international security, which gave the United Nations Security Council a unique power to deal with aggressor states and take necessary actions

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Sanctions- what are they? By definition, a sanction is an official order that limits trade, contact, etc. with a particular country, in order to make it do something, such as obeying international law, according to the Oxford dictionary. 

Before we even begin with today’s article, I would like to establish its aim today - SIMPING FOR CAKES, i.e. find solutions to international malpractices by powers, aiming for collaborative, accomplishable and knowledgeable enforcement of sanctions. 

Sanctions have been used in an ineffective manner ever since 432 BC when traders of Megara were compelled to abide by economic sanctions imposed on them by the empire of Athens, just before the commencement of the Peloponnesian war. 

Since time immemorial, sanctions have been used as a “diplomatic tool” to resolve disputes “peacefully” by several nations, as recognised by the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control). However, the question that arises is — are sanctions actually effective? 

Are they truly a way to resolve international disputes? Are they really peaceful? Do they not violate a plethora of human rights? Is the United Nations going to yet again use sanctions ineffectively and fall in the shadow of the league of nations?

Taking into consideration the most recent case where both unilateral and multilateral sanctions were imposed on a nation the Russia-Ukraine war, it has been articulated that we continue to face the same problems that we did in 432 BC. 

I am going to be emphasising a few main anomalies, irregularities and katzenjammers that require exigent attention at a global front. It is abhorrently apparent that the root cause of current sanctions is a conflate of hypocrisy, focusing on national interest at the cost of international interest, abuse of power and blatant obtuseness with regard to the humanitarian aspects. 

As a matter of fact, the entirety of the system of the United Nations was conceived to deal with primary aggressors in the international community, maintain international peace and security (Article 1(1) of the UN Charter), and resolve ethnic, territorial, economic, religious, and ideological disputes between two or more states. 

This spirit engendered a mechanism of international security, which gave the United Nations Security Council a unique power to deal with aggressor states and take necessary actions. 

There are several facets and unturned coins that need to be scrupulously scrutinised to reach the common objective of this article, i.e., improving the application and enforcement of sanctions.  

Firstly, under Article 41 of the UN Charter, the UN Security Council can take non-violent steps to resolve disputes by the imposition of sanctions. However, as seen in various conflicts like the Russo-Ukrainian War (2022) and the Abyssinia Crisis in 1935, sanctions have been used in the most ineffective way imaginable. 

Several inadequacies, discrepancies and loopholes were left undiscussed, due to which the sanctioned nations continued to trade with neutral countries and found heteroclite and downright unfair alternatives to boost their economies. 

Sanctions were meant to be peaceful measures taken to resolve disputes. However, the imposition of sanctions at the most inopportune moment, which is often when nations have divulged too deep into the conflict, is the very cause of continued aggression. Had sanctions been imposed earlier in various disputes, the economic and medical situation of the victim state as well as states reliant on the victim state would have been better. 

Secondly, sanctions have rarely ever been considered against the P5 nations. Fewer than 4 sanctions were imposed on the P5 nations since the 1980s until the Russo-Ukrainian war was looked upon as a perfectly imperfect opportunity by the United States to deplete Russia’s economic sources and dilapidate its reputation. 

For instance, the sanctions and visa restrictions imposed by the US against several Chinese government officials and companies, as a response to several accusations of apparent genocide against the Uyghur population in Xinjiang, and even strong allies of P5 nations, escape from sanctions, all thanks to the veto power of these nations.

It causes me immense fatigue just to see the sheer hypocrisy shown by financially independent nations when it comes to various aspects, including that sanctions. Countries like the USA, along with its European allies, should face the wrath of double-sided standards for supporting sanctions and international war crimes investigations against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, but at the same time supporting Israeli military actions in occupied Palestinian territories by not imposing sanctions on them. 

Similarly, Australia has always condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for nuclear proliferation, while simultaneously relying on the US nuclear arsenal for military protection. In 2006 and again in 2022, China and Russia both abused their veto power and vetoed sanctions on North Korea. 

Readers, these countries need to stop pretending as though they actually care for second and third-world nations, they are just a bunch of hypocritical nations who severely indulge in epicaricacy and constantly try to find excuses for their incompetence. 

These countries should officially be named editors of Wikipedia since they are so very interested in manipulating information, twisting facts and presenting strategies which make them look innocent, whilst condemning another nation at the same time. 

Thirdly, sanctions pose a threat to the violation of an innumerable amount of human rights. This includes violation of Articles 2, 3, 6, 9, 13.1 and 13.2, 23.1 and 25.1 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Third world nations, especially South-African and Middle-Easter, continuing trade with sanctioned nations like Russia are constantly under threat by the “West” about the imposition of secondary sanctions on these nations. 

This is done so as to compel these Russia’s weaker allies to agree to the strict sanctions being imposed due to the invasion of Ukraine. This is a gross violation of Article 2.7 of the UN Charter, which clearly states the use of threat or force is not permitted to manipulate the political independence of a nation. If anyone finds common sense and empathy, please could they return it to these so-called democratic superpowers? 

Logically speaking, why would any nation agree to sanctions being imposed on its close ally? This would be equivalent to a financial genocide for them, as they are heavily dependent on these nations for energy (coal, oil etc.), medical aid (medicines, surgical equipment etc.), familial remittances, humanitarian aid and monetary funds. 

For instance, after Saudi Arabia rejected USA’s request to increase oil production on the basis that Russia too is a crucial part of the OPEC+, the price of oil per barrel became USD 98.72 (as of 22nd August 2022), in comparison to it being USD 67.33 per barrel (as of 23 August 2021). 

These nations are under a considerable threat, a threat capable of crippling our economic well-being in a matter of a few seconds, a threat capable of leaving our citizens famished, hungry, and physically and psychologically battered, a threat capable of decimating our population due to the lack of medical facilities which will be facilitated as a result of these sanctions. 

We must understand that these third-world nations are under a considerable threat, a threat capable of crippling their economic well-being in a matter of a few seconds, a threat capable of leaving their citizens famished, hungry and physically and psychologically battered, a threat capable of decimating their population due to the lack of medical facilities which will be facilitated as a result of these sanctions. Readers, is this what we are really willing to pay in terms of collateral damage? No, just no. 

Now, as for solutions to improve the enforcement and efficiency of sanctions, I recommend the following. 

The fact that unilateral sanctions specifically targeted towards fiscal systems are the basic needs of that part of the population which is reliable on external sources of income such as remittances for survival, familial remittances should be allowed in all countries, despite the imposition of sanctions, with precautionary measures so as to ensure that this money is not sent directly to sanctioned individuals or groups. 

States sanctioning other States, which will be having a direct negative impact on other States, especially economically weak/ unstable States, must provide monetary reimbursements to account for economic loss, medical aid and assistance to States devastated by disease epidemics, suffering due to imposition of economic sanctions on major import partners or imposition of secondary sanctions on that State itself, and also alternative fuel/ energy supply (due to lack of energy in that State on account of fuel/ oil embargoes), to account for lack of electrical power, fuel for transport etc. 

Clear exit strategies and conditions for delisting must be provided, especially to sanctioned individuals/ organisations, where the state/ entity must comply with a set of conditions for sanctions to be lifted from them. This would not only provide an incentive to these entities but would also prevent unnecessary confusion and engender a generally more comprehensive approach towards sanctions as a whole. 

Furthermore, a humanitarian aid-specific portfolio should be added, which will allow greater coordination with humanitarian organisations. It will also provide comprehensive reports about the effect of sanctions on civilian populations every four months for two years, then every eight months for two years, and finally on an annual basis. It will also come up with solutions to the various humanitarian crises arising from sanctions, which will be further deliberated upon in the committee. 

Considering the rise in the use of cryptocurrencies and DarkNet by individuals and organisations who have had targeted financial seizures/ sanctions imposed on them, the initiation of an investigative attribution process is strongly recommended. 

This would include utilizing a combination of DWM (Desktop Window Manager) and blockchain transaction analysis tools to keep track of transactions happening that ultimately end at a cryptocurrency exchange or wallet, abiding with the Know Your Customer (KYC) standards. There should be a collaboration of forces such as the INTERPOL and fintech where an AML (anti-money laundering) checks on the transaction’s beneficial owner on the basis of reliable and independent information, data or documentation is held. 

Next, a Politically Exposed Party (PEP44) check must be conducted, thereby identifying members of activist groups intending harm and disruption of international peace along with simultaneous checks to identify a sanctioned individual/ organization. If users are found to be violating the sanctions imposed on them, it must be reported to higher authorities for immediate action to be taken. 

Readers, it is still not too late, there is still time for a change. There is still time to rectify our mistakes. We just cannot let go of this opportunity without even trying. It is true that we never jump to military action from the get-go right? 

We always look at other possibilities, and sanctions can become a majorly beneficial tool for these possibilities, once the loose bolts are tightened.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
sanctions Financial Issues Humanitarian issues

Ishana Sharma

The author is a student of Cathedral & John Connon School

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