Can UN arms embargoes in Africa be effective?

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Calls in 2007 for new UN sanctions on Iran and Burma reflect a current swing back in favour of using sanctions as a way of putting pressure on a regime without resorting to direct military engagement. This article assesses the effectiveness of UN sanctions in Africa and in particular of the most commonly imposed form of sanctions—the arms embargo. The article argues for an analysis of what sanctions achieve and suggests that for the most part UN embargoes have not stopped weapons reaching Africa not only because of the lack of capacity to implement them in some states, but also because of the lack of political will in others. In some post-conflict situations such as Liberia, UN sanctions have been adapted to support economic reconstruction and security sector reform effectively. However, in the future there is likely to be a decrease in the use of UN sanctions in Africa but an increase in their use by the Africa Union and some of Africa's Regional Economic Communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1107-1121
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


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