This thesis focuses on the humanitarian implications of economic sanctions. States are increasingly using sanctions as a foreign policy tool, but the ramifications for the citizens of the country have yet to be analyzed in depth. Although sanctions are an extremely powerful foreign policy tool, the humanitarian implications are too drastic. There are two main outcomes of sanctions that states seek: the pressure of the sanctions forces the government to change their policy or the humanitarian implications force the citizens to revolt against the government. These outcomes rarely occur as we can see clearly in cases such as Cuba or North Korea. This thesis will use three case studies: Cuba, Iraq, and Iran. The three cases differ in the type of sanctions which in return varies the degree of humanitarian implications. The types of sanctions are unilateral, multilateral, and universal. The four sectors of humanitarian implications are economic growth, health and drugs, food and nutrition, and education. Cuba has sustained unilateral economic sanctions imposed by the United States for years and the sanctions have not made a change in the attitudes of the government. Instead the sanctions have created humanitarian implications in Cuba. Because the government refuses to allow any dissent from citizens, the sanctions will neither change the policy of the government nor pressure citizens to revolt against the government. Therefore the sanctions in Cuba have been quite ineffective and have solely had the effect of hurting the ordinary citizens of Cuba. The second case study is of Iraq. Iraq is the most publicized case of humanitarian implications of universal sanctions. The infamous interview with Madeleine Albright stating that the half a million children that died in Iraq because of the sanctions and war were 'worth it.' Although this statement was later clarified, it shed light on the dramatic implications of the sanctions. The sanctions hurt almost every sector of Iraq and left the state in shambles. The last case study is on Iran. The US has imposed sanctions on Iran for years, but the UN community got involved after the Iranian nuclear program. These sanctions are for the most part multilateral. The sanctions against Iran have also had significant humanitarian implications, specifically economic growth and the health and drugs sector. It is unknown if the new government of Iran will prompt a change in the sanctions imposed by the international community. All three case studies will present a strong correlation between the economic sanctions imposed and the humanitarian implications. The three states that are used as case studies were showing progress in at least one of the humanitarian sectors prior to the imposition of sanctions. We can see decay in economic growth, health and drugs, and food and nutrition most prevalently.


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Thesis Completion





Sadri, Houman A.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences


Political Science


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis