Reforming the Current United Nations Sanctions System: A Necessary Exercise in the 21st Century

Author:George Hikah Benson
254 SLJ 7 (1)
Reforming the Current United Nations
Sanctions System: A Necessary Exercise in
the 21st Century
George Hikah Benson
The importance of sanctions in every legal
jurisdiction (municipal or international) cannot
be downplayed overstated. This explains why
Discussions on the effectiveness or otherwise of
the current United Nations (UN) sanctions
system, have not only dominated not only the
academic space but has have also taken centre
stage in discussions within the world body
itself. Within this discourse, it is often argued
that international sanctions are less effective
than unlike sanctions within municipal law
settings are relatively less effective. This Article,
whilst conceptualising sanctions, has the main
objective of testing for the will also endeavour to
test the potency of UN sanctions in with respect
of to the achievements made so far.
Over the years, national and international political
institutions have succeeded in promoting law and order
Reforming the Current United Nations Sanctions System 255
within their societies via the use of effective enforcement
measures.1 In the same vein, non-state organisations,
corporate bodies, ethnic groups, religious groups, and others
equally exercise enforcement measures vis-à-vis regulations
that direct the conduct of members. To that extent, sanctions,
also referred to as enforcement measures in this Article, are
multipurpose in nature and differ from one legal jurisdiction
to the other. Indeed, the phenomenon whereby varied legal
jurisdictions operate under varied enforcement regimes,
accounts for the differences in the level of effectiveness of
their respective legal systems. Against this backdrop, some
legal scholars have argued that municipal law sanctions are
far more effective than international law sanctions.2 They
often support their argument on the grounds that municipal
legal jurisdictions have centralised law enforcement systems,
whereas international law lacks such arrangements. That
granted, subjects of municipal law systems are seen to be
more likely to adhere to established rules and regulations
than subjects of international law (these are independent
sovereign state actors) that often breach international rules
with impunity, several times depending on their might, and
escape unpunished. It therefore stands to reason that laws,
rules, and orders are only adhered to where there is a strong
1 José E Alvarez, International Organizations as Law-
makers (Oxford University Press 2006).
2 Dinah Shelton (ed), International law and domestic legal systems:
Incorporation, Transformation and Persuasion (Oxford University
Press 2011).
256 SLJ 7 (1)
central enforcement system.3 Hence, societies with strong
enforcement and centralised legal systems depict orderliness,
peace, and security.4 Effective enforcement measures are the
driving force or lifeline of every legal system, as they directly
or indirectly influence the moral fibre, security, stability, and
development of societies.5
Sanctions primarily set out to achieve one or all of the
following: compliance to societal laws and norms;
maintenance of law and order in societies; or punishment for
wrongdoers as deterrence to potential wrongdoers on one
hand, and retributive measures on the other.6 As stated
earlier, sanctions are multipurpose in nature and may also be
designed to aid governments and regimes that are working
towards peaceful transitions without having to destroy
existing systems, as evidenced by the sanctions instituted by
3 Bardo Fassbender, Targeted Sanctions and Due Process
(Humboldt University 2006).
4 Martti Koskenniemi, 'What Is International Law For?' in M D
Evans (ed), International Law (Oxford University Press 2003).
5 Jeremy Farrall, United Nations Sanctions and the Rule of Law
(Cambridge University Press 2007);
ibid; Jeremy Farrall, ‘The World Summit and UN Sanctions
Reform’, In P G Danchin & H Fischer (eds), United Nations
Reform and the New Collective Security (Cambridge University
Press 2010); G H Benson and V Adzahlie-Mensah ‘Reflections on
International Sanctions as Conflict Management tools within the
Collective Security system’ (2018) 6 (7) Global Journal of Arts,
Humanities and Social Sciences, 56-66.

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