Sanctions More Honored in the Breach

According to a new Swedish report, United Nations arms embargoes are always breached and rarely change the behavior of the target country. But, it adds, sanctions can be a powerful symbolic tool.

The study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute examined the 27 mandatory UN arms embargoes implemented since 1990. They include countries such as Iraq and Somalia and groups like al-Qaeda.

They found that none of the sanctions completely stopped the transfer of weapons to the target. However, the researchers conclude that even if there are breaches, embargoes are not useless, and that they are more effective when UN peacekeepers are present.