Economic Sanctions, International Law, and Crimes against Humanity: Venezuela's ICC Referral

Eirik Bjorge, Dapo Akande, Payam Akhavan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
562 Downloads (Pure)


Economic sanctions, unilateral and multilateral, have a long pedigree in international relations. From South Africa and Israel, to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, such measures have, with varying results, been used in diverse contexts to influence the behavior of states. Some would celebrate the use of economic sanctions as a means of punishing “rogue states” for human rights violations or threats to the peace, while others would condemn it as “imperialism” by powerful states against the weak. Leaving aside Chapter VII enforcement action by the UN Security Council, the imposition of unilateral sanctions raises far-reaching questions in respect of the rights and duties of states under international law. A novel issue that has emerged recently is whether, in certain circumstances, such measures could even qualify as crimes against humanity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-512
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Journal of International Law
Issue number3
Early online date29 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Sanctions
  • Crimes against Humanity
  • Economic Sanctions
  • Unilateral Sanctions
  • "Unilateral Coercive Measures"


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