This paper looks at whether or not economic sanctions employed to reduce human rights abuses and regime change able to effectively achieve their stated goals. The 1990s saw a large increase in the utilization of sanctions as a less violent method of diplomatic force, alternative to warfare. However, scholars have debated whether or not economic sanctions are an improvement from warfare given the humanitarian suffering that they create and their relatively low success rate. Due to the low success rate of economic sanctions overall, it is often argued that sanctions are used to generate a diplomatic stance in the international community and satisfy domestic constituencies within the sender country, without actually taking much formal action or suffering financial losses. One aspect of sanctions that has largely been overlooked by the literature is the process for their removal and the unintended consequences for industry in the target country. This paper uses Burma/Myanmar as a case study in order to highlight three points. First, increased human rights abuses and a concentration of the oil and gas sector in the country demonstrate the negative impacts and unintended outcomes that sanctions produce in target countries. Second, despite knowing that unilateral and piecemeal sanctions are ineffective, Western nations still chose to deploy sanctions, demonstrating ulterior motivations. Finally, the removal of sanctions in Burma/Myanmar was triggered by cosmetic regime change, which created a domino effect where in all countries dropped their sanctions at once, eliminating bargaining power and catering to the demands of companies in sender countries over the demands of sanctions.
Professor Bradford Dillman
Date of Completion
Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economy
International Political Economy
Date of Award
University of Puget Sound
Sachs, Camille, "Moral Sanctions With Immoral Impacts" (2015). International Political Economy Theses. 16.