Sara Nordstrand

Instigating Democracy without Invasion: What has made Democratic Sanctions Successful?
Political Science
Spring 2017

With this project I seek to find what factors account for democratic sanctions success. Sanctions have for the past two decades been a popular tool for conflict management, and for good reason. For policymakers, it is a tool to signal resolve, it is relatively cheap, it does not require direct confrontation, nor does it threaten the citizens of the sender nation. However, its use is often seen by the public as having inhumane consequences, on top of being seen as ineffective. This does not come as a surprise, we have seen sanctions catastrophic results in Iraq in 1990 and in Bosnia in 1995. The vast majority of literature echo the public’s skepticism. Previous researchers have found sanctions to repress human rights, escalate conflict intensity, strengthen authoritarian leaders and deteriorate democratic freedoms. Despite these findings, a very recent study has revealed that ‘democratic sanctions’ (sanctions with democratic aims) have been successful. This is an astonishing finding considering the last two decades’ harsh narrative against sanctions. Coming out of this is my research question, which seeks to understand what factors about, or alongside, the sanctions have made them successful in the post-Cold War period. While sanctions remain a common tool of conflict management regardless of the literature, I think it is important for scholars to fact-check and guide the government’s decisions to successful outcomes. For this reason, I seek to find what factors account for democratic sanctions’ success as a means of encouraging more effective and purposeful policymaking. Inevitably, these decisions have a profound impact on human lives both domestically and abroad.