Unilateral trade sanctions as a means to combat human rights abuses: legal and factual appraisal

  • Tilahun Weldie Hindeya


Some developed countries have used unilateral trade sanctions against governments that have allegedly been engaged in gross violations of human rights as a tool to force such governments to comply with basic human rights standards. Even though unilateral trade sanctions might be targeted against governments that grossly violate human rights, such measures have unintended consequences on the general population who live in the target country. In many cases, the general population suffers as a result of such sanctions rather than the public officials who are the targets. Hence, the effectiveness of such measures in meeting the desired result is questionable. Such measures have been utilized by countries that are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) thereby raising the issue of the legality of such measures under the WTO rules. The two main issues that surround unilateral trade sanctions are thus the legality of such measures under the WTO rules and the effectiveness of the measures to meet the desired result. I argue that unilateral trade sanctions on grounds of human rights violations are neither permissible under the WTO rules nor effective weapons to achieve the goals (i.e. forcing governments to comply with basic human rights standards).

Keywords:Unilateral Trade Sanctions, Human rights, Repressive Governments, The World Trade Organization, Extraterritorial Application

MIZAN LAW REVIEW Vol. 7 No.1, September 2013

Author Biography

Tilahun Weldie Hindeya
Assistant Professor at Bahir Dar University School of Law

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2309-902X
print ISSN: 1998-9881