Why are international penalties barely effective
If history is a scientific experiment, the sure conclusions that the scientist must have arrived at is that humans are bound to love, hate and have conflicts. Conflicts always exist at every given point in history, and when the conflict is between two or more countries, the bloodiest wars are often the result. Because of the bloody nature of war, many countries seek to avoid it by clinging to other alternatives in a bid to get their demands met. International penalties like embargoes and sanctions are mostly employed by the aggrieved country because it is more effective than words and helps them avoid the bloodiness of warfare.

These punishments are mostly used by countries with bigger economies to avoid spilling blood, amid effectively pushing to see their demands met. The demands often include a bid to get better Human Rights practiced in the smaller country. However, it must be noted that not all international penalties are incurred for the right reasons. Some bigger countries impose sanctions on other countries for selfish reasons like a need to patronize local goods, and a need to weaken military threats other nations can pose.

There are different types of international punishments in use, and some of these punishments are legal, others are illegal.


1) Sanctions:

Sanctions are usually economic punishments placed by one sovereign nation on another. The goal of placing sanctions is to make the sanctioned nation change policies and spearhead an improvement in diplomatic relations between the sanctioning country and sanctioned country. A list of punishments that can be used to enforce sanctions includes increasing tariffs on imports or exports to discourage imports or exports from or to the sanctioned country.

Blockades are similar to sieges because

2) Embargoes:

Embargoes are a form of economic sanctions, however, they are more severe than traditional sanctions. Examples of ongoing embargoes are the European Union's arms embargo on China and the United States' trade embargo on Cuba (the longest running embargo at the moment).


1) Blockades:

Blockades involve one sovereign nation placing military stations on coasts or boundaries of another country to limit the flow of resources in and out of the blocked country. Most blockades that have been recorded in history are naval blockades, and they are usually described as an act of war. All blockades are usually considered the first stage of a war because they can lead to retaliations and full-blown wars. Though the legal status of blockades is determined by the subjective opinions of different countries, most countries generally consider blockades illegal.

Blockades are similar to sieges because of the unauthorized military presence of one country in another country's territory. However, the difference between a blockade and a siege is in the intent of the foreign power. A siege aims at taking over the besieged country, but a blockade only aims at punishing the blocked country by cutting off its supplies.

A natural question that has barely

2) No Fly Zones:

A no fly zone is a form of blockade aimed at ensuring flights do not transverse a given area. No fly zones are imposed by a foreign power to ensure flights are not allowed to pass a certain zone within the sanctioned country. The no fly zone imposed by a country is located inside the other country. This has been seen in many contexts as an attack on the sanctioned nation's sovereignty.

An example of modern no fly zones was imposed on Iraq between 1991 and 2003 by France, the United States and the British Empire during the first Gulf War. However, the French pulled out of the deal, citing no fly zones as illegal attacks on a sovereign nation's sovereignty.


The reality is that the use of international sanctions turn out to be mostly ineffective ventures. Less than half of all international sanctions ever imposed have been effective, and the effective sanctions are mostly only relatively effective, not absolutely effective.

A natural question that has barely been given attention is: 'Why are international penalties barely effective?' The answers to this question include (but are not limited to) the following.

3) Civilians Suffer More:

1) The Country Imposing The Sanction Suffers Too:

For example, the United States sanctioned China in 2018 by placing higher tariffs on imports coming from China. The average American's range of options available for purchase diminished. Americans who were addicted to using certain Chinese products had to purchase these products at a higher price.

When news that sanctions imposed are affecting both countries get to the sanctioned country, they may find it difficult to comply with the demands of the country imposing the sanction. This is because they have an option to rely on the effects of the sanction on the country sanctioning them to force a removal of the sanction.

2) Pride:

It is notable that most countries do not succumb to the demands attached to a sanction because of pride. They consider it an attack on their independence, and independence is the very reason they are a country in the first place.

3) Civilians Suffer More:

Why Are International Penalties barely effective?

The Cuban government always cites the embargo placed on Cuba by America as the reason for the country's poverty. It must be noted that poor countries can have rich individuals, and the elites and members of a country's cabinet are usually rich and unaffected by their country's economic situation. The people who suffer more from the poverty of a country are the average citizens who almost have no hand in the decisions made by the country's government. They have no chance to ensure that their country meets the demands placed by the foreign power, but they suffer more from their government's decision not to obey the demands.

The fact that most government officials remain rich despite the sanctions hinders their willingness to meet the demands of a sanction, the sanction turns out ineffective. Also, the fact that the people suffering from the sanctions are the average civilians could stir humanity and pressure the foreign power into removing the sanctions.

There are also candid examples of no fly zones leading to the death of more civilians than government officials or military officers. In the case of the no fly zone imposed on Iraq during the first Gulf War, so many civilian planes were shot down. The civilian casualties were staggering, that no fly zone was generally a failure, an ineffective penalty.

4) There Are Alternatives:

During the Cold War, when America placed an embargo on Cuba, Cuba opted to trade with the Soviet Union (America's biggest enemy at the time). When further sanctions were levied on Cuba thanks the Trading With The Enemy Act, America refused purchasing Cuban sugar. To keep the Cuban economy running, The Soviet Union decided to import the sugar.

There are options, and sanctioned countries prefer using an alternative means instead of bowing to the demands of a foreign power. The presence of many other alternative trading partners in this massive planet makes many sanctions ineffective.

5) Unwillingness To Succumb To Economic Losses:

It is straight forward, most countries are generally unwilling to bear the economic implications conceding to the demands of a foreign power would bring. This is particularly the case when the sanctions were placed because the foreign power is looking to gain economically.

International penalties are certainly a better alternative to war, but their ineffectiveness means a better idea is required. While great minds are blessed with the task of seeking better alternatives to war, it is clear that, every method of settling international conflicts so far used has cracks. Humanity may never have a perfect conflict resolution system before extinction meets it.

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