American Economic Sanctions on 90 Years 20 Century: Difficult Way to Reform of Sanction Politics

  • Radek Tomáš


The September 11th, terrorist attacks on the United States totally overshadowed the significant legislative changes in the field of the US sanctions policy, which went into effect in the years 2000 and 2001. Albeit these changes as such may appear insufficient at first sight, the decade of sanctions policy reform debates and disputes which preceded these changes justifies the conclusion that they are the best result possible, and far more important than any unsystematic shifts in the regime of imposing economic sanctions for foreign policy purposes made back in the 1990s. The need to reform the US sanctions policy was caused by a fundamental change of the international environment brought about by the end of the Cold War. Unlike in the bipolar world, wherein universal sanctions measures were fully sufficient, it was necessary after the end of the Cold War to react to numerous and varied threats to US foreign policy interests. This was done by laws “tailored” for the sanctioned country. The attempt to reform US sanctions policy in the 1990s revealed in full the rivalry between the legislative and executive powers, both of which wanted to preserve the decisive influence upon administrating sanctions and making decisions about them. It was undoubtedly the legislative power –the Congress – which emerged strengthened from the decade of rivalry.The last major factor reemerging in the sanctions policy reform debate and disputes was the issue of extraterritorial effects of some US laws. The extraterritoriality of US legislation caused a backlash in the world, which the US administration could not simply ignore. Yet the United States will probably not give up this powerful tool for forced multilateralization of its unilateral sanctions since this tool enables the US to avoid protracted and uncertain promotion of its interests in the form of multilateral sanctions negotiated by traditional diplomatic means.

Author Biography

Radek Tomáš