Coercive or corrosive: The negative impact of economic sanctions on democracy


This article seeks to analyze the impact that sanctions have on democracy. We argue that economic sanctions worsen the level of democracy because the economic hardship caused by sanctions can be used as a strategic tool by the targeted regime to consolidate authoritarian rule and weaken the opposition. Furthermore, we argue that economic sanctions create new incentives for the political leadership to restrict political liberties, to undermine the challenge of sanctions as an external threat to their authority. Using time-series cross-national data (1972-2000), the findings show that both the immediate and longer-term effects of economic sanctions significantly reduce the level of democratic freedoms in the target. The findings also demonstrate that comprehensive economic sanctions have greater negative impact than limited sanctions. These findings suggest that sanctions can create negative externalities by reducing the political rights and civil liberties in the targeted state. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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International Interactions