Quick facts


Effectiveness of UN targeted sanctions:

Effective signaling and target stigmatization is significantly easier than coercing targets to change their behavior. While only 11% of all UN sanctions episodes since 1991 were effective In coercing target behavior change, 24% succeeded in constraining targets in pursuing undesirable activities, and 29% of all episodes sent a clear signal stigmatizing the target of sanctions.

Overall, about 2 in 5 sanctions episodes (39%) were effective in achieving at least one of their purposes (coercion, constraint, and / or signaling).

Finally, considering all purposes within an episode together, 14% were had a high overall effectiveness, 38% a mixed overall effectiveness, and 49% a low overall effectiveness in achieving their stated goals.


Effectiveness in coercion:

Coercion is the hardest sanctions purpose to achieve. Only in 22% of sanctions episodes aiming to coerce sanctions' targets was the UN Security Council able to succeed or partially succeed in achieving its stated goals.


Effectiveness in constraint:

Constraint is somewhat easier to achieve than coercion. The UN Security Council was able to succeed or partially succeed in achieving its stated goals in almost 40% of all sanctions episodes, where constraint was a stated goal.


Effectiveness in signaling:

Signaling is the most ubiquitous purpose and one that is the easiest to achieve. The UN Security Council was able to at least partially succeed in signaling its stated goals in almost 60% of sanctions episodes.


Overall effectiveness:

Taking all applicable purposes of sanctions within each episode into account, the UN Security Council was highly effective in achieving its stated purposes in 14% of the sanctions episodes and achieved mixed results in further 38% of sanctions episodes. It was overall ineffective in achieving its purposes in a little less than half of all sanctions episodes.