All about Sanctions- what are they, who imposes them and how do they work?

What are Sanctions?

Sanctions are penalties regarding financial or commercial activities. A country or group of countries may put sanctions on another country, a group of people or organizations, or even an individual person.

History of Sanctions

Economic sanctions were not defined properly until the 20th Century. However, there are instances of similar events occurring in history. In fact, the earliest recorded instance of a sanction was in 432 BC. Sources show that the Athenian Empire of Greece placed a ban on traders and salesmen from the city of Megara from its bustling marketplace. The Megaran traders depended greatly on their access to the Athenian markets to facilitate the flow of money to and from Megara. With this action, Athens managed to deal a heavy blow to its rival's economy.

The use of sanctions increased greatly in the 20th Century. This was thanks to the United Nations and the League of Nations. They began to use political and financial tactics to force resisting countries to comply with their policies, as well as punish those who went against their guidelines. These slowly evolved into country-based sanctions, which are imposed in retaliation for serious offences.

How do Sanctions Work?

Economic Sanctions have the most devastating effect on the country they are put on. Governing bodies usually impose economic sanctions on offending countries to prevent them from trading with other countries. They may also increase the import duties on certain goods significantly. This causes economic loss to the importer and discourages them from participating in trade. It  aim to disrupt the economic stability of the country in order to force them to comply with guidelines and repent for their digressions. However, it may also affect neutral countries that depend on certain goods and services from the stigmatized country.

Types of Sanctions