22 May 2003 - Present
(over 20 years)
Non-proliferation, Peacebuilding
Sanction Types
  • Asset freeze (individual / entity asset freeze, asset transfer)
  • Arms (arms imports embargo)
  • Proscribed activities (weapons of mass destruction)
  • Commodity (Iraqi cultural property)

Previously comprehensive sanctions (August 1990 - May 2003).

Non-UN Sanctions
Regional (EU), Unilateral (no)
Other Policy Instruments
Diplomacy, Use of military force, Covert measures


On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. UNSCR 660, passed on the same day, demanded an immediate withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Following the failure of Iraq to comply with the demand, the UNSC imposed comprehensive sanctions on Iraq on 6 August 1990 (UNSCR 661). The comprehensive ban on the import or export of all commodities, products, and financial and economic resources to or from Iraq and Kuwait was later supplemented by an aviation ban (UNSCR 670 of 25 September 1990) and restrictions on the import and export of arms and weapons of mass destruction to and from Iraq (UNSCR 687 of 3 April 1991). UNSCR 687 also created a fund to compensate claims that resulted from Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.

After more than a decade of diplomatic impasse and comprehensive economic sanctions over Iraq’s failure to fulfill UN requirements (including reparations payments to Kuwait and disclosure and destruction of weapons of mass destruction), a coalition led by the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003 and overthrew the Iraqi government in May 2003, based on allegations of the presence of weapons of mass destruction in the country. While the invasion had not been authorized by the UN Security Council, a formal occupation regime was established. The interim regime, which was recognized by both states and the UN, initiated a radical re-organization of the Baathist Iraqi state, dismantling the army and core state institutions.


The analysis of the Iraq case is divided into the following episodes (also navigable via the numbers in the top bar):