Sanctions Sans Commitment: An Assessment of UN Arms Embargoes

April 2002 – Arms embargoes are the most frequently employed form of economic sanction and a potentially powerful instrument of UN peace- and security-building. By denying aggressors and human rights abusers the implements of war and repression, arms embargoes contribute directly to preventing and reducing the level of armed conflict. Moreover, in constricting only selected weapons and military-related goods and services, and in denying these to ruling elites, their armies, and other violent combatants, arms embargoes constitute the quintessential example of a “smart sanction.”

This report provides preliminary analysis of what recent arms embargo cases reveal about how to improve the implementation and enforcement of arms embargoes.  It also discusses some of the recommendations for arms embargoes formulated at the recently concluded Bonn-Berlin high level meetings on this policy area.

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