The day after Iraq’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 660 condemning Iraq’s aggression and demanding that it withdraw. A week later it passed Resolution 661 demanding that UN Member States prevent all trade and financial transactions with Iraq. In all of its previous history, the Security Council had only imposed sanctions to discipline errant states twice before. The precedent used for the drafting of Resolution 661 was the sanctions imposed on Rhodesia in December 1966 after it had declared independence from Britain. This signified something of an empirical vacuum where those drafting resolutions in New York deployed a set of assumptions that gave both the theory and practise of sanctions their coherence. It was assumed that a state, when faced with an on-going economic embargo, would be forced to react in predictable ways. If the application of sanctions caused enough suffering within society, then popular discontent would eventually force the ruling elite to change policy and work to lift sanctions as theoretically the state cannot escape public opinion or ignore a population whose economic well-being has been seriously damaged by the application of sanctions. In 1990–1991 the economic and political assumptions underpinning the practice of sanctions appeared to make Iraq an ideal candidate for their application given that 95% of Iraq’s foreign exchange earnings came directly from oil exports. In addition, the economy was dependent upon food imports costing US$3 billion annually. However, these assumptions along with the normative vision that gave sanctions their ideological coherence were proven wrong as the Iraqi regime manoeuvred to entrench itself further within society and actually strengthen its position.
Research Article| January 01 2010
The failure of sanctions and the evolution of international policy towards Iraq, 1990–2003*
Contemporary Arab Affairs (2010) 3 (1): 83–91.
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Toby Dodge; The failure of sanctions and the evolution of international policy towards Iraq, 1990–2003. Contemporary Arab Affairs 1 January 2010; 3 (1): 83–91. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/17550910903525952
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