The European Union Global Human Rights Sanctions: Between Norm-Enforcement and Foreign Policy Instrumentality

Nathanael Tilahun

    Research output: Working paper/PreprintWorking paper


    With the imminent adoption of a Global Human Rights Sanctions regime, the European Union (EU) takes a new step in leveraging its economic and political power to respond to human rights violations around the world. This sanctions regime, unlike the county-focused sanctions regimes that currently exist, has a thematic focus and targets individuals implicated in gross human rights violations across the world. This paper shows this sanctions regime occupies a tension zone between two competing approaches to sanctions for normative purposes such as human rights: a foreign policy approach that perceives sanctions as flexible tools subservient to political projects, and a norm-enforcement approach that views such sanctions as enforcement tools deriving from specific international legal regime. The tension between these approaches is reflected in the legal characterization, scope, and potential operation of the sanction regime. As a result, a fundamental dissonance exists between what the EU says it wants to achieve and where it is potentially headed to. Resolving this tension requires forthrightly engaging the legal vulnerabilities and limitations involved, and the policy tradeoffs that might be necessary. Doing so is also crucial for the legitimacy and success of the proposed human rights sanctions regime going forward.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusSubmitted - 2020


    • Sanctions
    • international law
    • Human Rights
    • EU foreign policy
    • third-party countermeasures


    Dive into the research topics of 'The European Union Global Human Rights Sanctions: Between Norm-Enforcement and Foreign Policy Instrumentality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this