Sanctions work best when there are carrots and not just sticks, says Ban Ki-moon

Sanctions work best when there are carrots and not just sticks, says Ban Ki-moon

Ban Ki-moon (front left) addresses Symposium
Security Council sanctions are most effective when they aim for a clear goal using incentives and not just threats, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a symposium on the issue today.

Security Council sanctions are most effective when they aim for a clear goal using incentives and not just threats, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a symposium on the issue today.

Describing sanctions as having “enormous potential to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security when not used as an end in themselves, but in support of a holistic conflict resolution approach,” Mr. Ban said they must reflect the strong and united will of the international community to be as effective as possible.

“Their goals must be clear and unambiguous. And the goal posts must not be changed arbitrarily or without explanation in order to meet unstated political objectives,” he added.

“Sanctions should include carrots along with sticks – not only threats, but inducements to elicit compliance. The target must understand what actions it is expected to take. And partial or full compliance should be met by reciprocal steps from the Council, such as easing or lifting sanctions as appropriate.”

Mr. Ban told the Symposium on Enhancing the Implementation of Security Council Sanctions, which was hosted by Greece and held at UN Headquarters in New York, that sanctions had become increasingly refined. “Where once they were an often blunt and unfocused instrument, today they have become a more precise tool. Their increased use attests to their growing power.”

Measures introduced now are often targeted at specific individuals and can include the freezing of financial assets, travel restrictions and strictures on commodities whose sale is used to fund wars.

“They are meant to deny States the means with which to fuel conflict, while minimizing the effects on the general population.”

But he warned that there are still challenges in enforcing sanctions, from a lack of international political will to the difficulty often encountered on exerting leverage over non-State actors.

Yet, “if implemented effectively, sanctions can avoid the costs in blood and treasure that might otherwise ensue from the use of armed force,” he said. “While not a solution in themselves, sanctions can play an effective role among the panoply of measures to prevent and resolve conflict.”