Quick facts

Unintended consequences

UN sanctions can have a broad range of both negative and positive unintended consequences, depending on the type of measure(s) imposed and the particular context. There is evidence of some unintended consequences of the use of sanctions by the UN in 93 percent of the episodes in the post-Cold War period. These are most commonly:

Increased corruption & criminality

58% of sanctions episodes

Humanitarian consequences:

44% of sanctions episodes

Decline in the credibility and/or legitimacy of UN Security Council:

37% of sanctions episodes

Strengthening of authoritarian rule:

36% of sanctions episodes

Resource diversion:

34% of sanctions episodes

Notably, we found no evidence of UN sanctions enhancing the stature of targeted individuals.