Impact of Sanctions and Boycotts on Children


René Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

13 Aug 2018 – For some time the Association of World Citizens has been concerned with the impact on children of U.N.-proclaimed sanctions as well as the impact of national boycotts of a State.  On the one hand, economic and trade sanctions is one of the few instruments short of war to enforce world law and to modify in a positive direction the behavior of a State. On the other hand, sanctions also can be a blunt weapon hitting the weak, sick and hungry who usually have had no or little influence on the policy being sanctioned.

In addition to U.N.-proclaimed sanctions, there have been national boycotts, often linked to internal political considerations such as the US boycott against Cuba or that of certain Arab States against Israel.  The subject of the impact of sanctions has again become a crucial issue with the US-led sanctions against Iran.

The impact of sanctions and boycotts on children was raised, largely by the representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) during the decade-long negotiations (one month per year) in Geneva which led to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The issue was raised with a focus on the impact on children, the handicapped and pregnant women. The issue was also raised by the representatives of UNICEF who are often on the “front lines” on the consequences of sanctions

Today, the US-led sanctions against Iran are at the heart of growing Middle East tensions.  The sanctions are an aspect of a growing militarization and potentially greater armed conflicts in the wider Middle East.

Tentatively set for October 12-13, President Trump plans to bring Arab allies to the White House to forge a military alliance against Iran.  Officially known as the Middle East Strategic Alliance, it is often called the “Arab NATO” – a Saudi-led effort that includes the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt and Jordan.

This summit, if held, increases regional pressures on Iran before the 5 November date starting a second set of US sanctions in an effort to curb Iran’s oil and natural gas exports with strong implications for Western European companies.

Those of us concerned with the peaceful resolution of armed conflicts through negotiations in good faith must take steps quickly to reduce these tensions and to prevent the institutionalization of current divides among States in the wider Middle East. Negotiations on the armed conflict in Yemen are planned for early September at the U.N. in Geneva, and the Washington conference is for early October. Thus, we do not have much lead time for effective action.


René Wadlow is a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Task Force on the Middle East, president and U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens, and editor of Transnational Perspectives. He is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 13 Aug 2018.

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