The Negative Effects of Economic Sanctions on the Environment

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Publish Date : 11/23/2018 21:42
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The negative effects of sanctions on living and important rights such as the right to life and healthy living of citizens, results in the raising of extensive debates and deep concerns from human rights activists and the legitimacy of various types of sanctions have been faced with fundamental challenges.

From the beginning of the 1990s, the status of not resorting to force in the UN Charter expanded the use of economic sanctions, both within Chapter 7 of the Charter and also unilaterally by countries. In this method, institutionally, one state or a collective of states refrain from establishing economic relations with a specific state through sanctions with the aim of making that state change its behaviour. These sanctions affect various aspects of human rights that include environmental rights, which we discuss below in detail.


1 – Environmental Rights
As well as requiring fundamental rights such as the right to life, health, living in safe, clean and healthy environment, and the right to defend, having environmental rights also has a close relationship with sustainable development. The extent, complexity and technicality of this right and the problem in its way, has got almost all countries involved, regardless of their development levels. In the recent years, principles such as the “Common but different responsibility”, “cooperation of states” and “cautionary” principles have all found important places in international regulations. The application of these principles requires the implementation of some procedures such as environmental procedures and utilization of the most advanced technologies of the day, which have been noted in international documents such as the Helsinki Convention and the Rio Declaration. According to these principles, are obligated to cooperate and also accept commitments to each other and the international community to logically benefit and manage common international environmental resources, climate change, and protection of eco-diversity.


2 – Interaction between Technology and the Environment
Interaction between technology and natural environment can be categorised in three effect levels: direct effects, indirect effects and organized effects. The direct effects, directly affect technology the process of production of goods and their distribution and use. In these conditions, in the event of access to existing technologies, the consumer can, through the purchasing process, benefit from goods that have standards. Among these goods, green technology is a part of the considerations in environmental implementations which pursue the preparation process in such way that in comparison with similar types, during production, consumption and conclusion, have the least damage to human and environmental health. In the indirect effects, smart reduction of greenhouse gases emissions in sectors such as transportation, construction and industry is pertinent. Systematic effects too, have indirect technological effects on the environment in general and the creation of structural and behavioural changes in daily lives and focuses on economic and social parameters.(*) Alongside these instances there are other technologies which affect the environment. Some of these technologies are newer and some are older.

Agricultural technologies are important types of these technologies which in confrontation with global pollution problem due to sharing of natural resources and factors such as the use of chemical insecticides, unrestricted farming and irrigation, in pursuit of an understanding of how to utilise processes, equipment and structures alongside the people, earth, plants, animals and their produce. Eco-technology too, is another form of technology which through the practice of scientific and technical methods in the conversion and production of some materials with the help of environmental factors, deals with the production of goods and services in agriculture, food, medicine and medical industries, and directly affects the environment and existing species.


With the aid of environmental friendly technologies, governments can do culture-building, design, production, consumption, use and recycling of various products, governments can achieve these and reduce their negative effects. Organized technological effects and their reflection on the environment are along with complex changes in production and the consumption of products in the long run, and is a time consuming process. When a country is under sanction, it loses access to such opportunities and various aspects of empowerment is denied it. In these circumstances, it is clear that not only sanctions affect the targeted government, but also severely affect its citizens’ lives.

The negative effects of sanctions on living and important rights such as the right to life and healthy living of citizens results in the raising of extensive debates and deep concerns from human rights activists and the legitimacy of various types of sanctions as application guarantees in international law have been faced with fundamental challenges. Alongside this, the inclusion of the promotion and respect to human rights in the UN Charter and also the necessity to observe customary laws, human rights principles and fundamental rights of people, engulf the subject more. Under these circumstances it is not far-fetched to think that lack of attention to the damaging effects of sanctions, not only destroy the legitimacy of these actions, but also in accordance with international law, result in raise the accountability question of the sanctions imposing state or states too.


Sara Balkh (Ph.D.)
International Law & Human Rights Researcher



(*) Skuby, K. E., & Windekilde, I. M. (2010). Green Direct and Enabling Effects of ICT – Focus on Mobile. Paper Presented at 3rd CMI Conference – Green ICT, Ballerup, Denmark, p.p. 1-10

“ The Negative Effects of Economic Sanctions on the Environment ”