102 MIZAN LAW REVIEW Vol. 7 No.1, September 2013
trade sanctions in general and unilateral trade sanctions in particular has become
increasingly controversial.2 The dispute over unilateral trade sanctions does not,
however, relate to the purpose intended to be achieved, i.e. the objective of
promoting human rights, but rather to the question of whether these sanctions
are the most effective weapons to achieve the goals.3 While some have regarded
unilateral trade sanctions as an alternative way of defending human rights in
target countries, there are concerns that such measures do not bring about the
desired result but might rather inflict undesirable consequences on the general
population.4 Furthermore, the efficacy of trade sanctions as a tool to promote
human rights has evoked the debate over the relationship between trade
measures and human rights.5
Targeted countries and countries that take such measures are mainly
members of the WTO, and this has evoked the question of the legality of trade
sanctions under the WTO. Apart from the controversy on the effectiveness of
Canada has also imposed sanctions against Burma and Zimbabwe. Moreover, EU has
also imposed unilateral trade sanctions against Burma, and Zimbabwe. See generally
Margaret Doxey (2009), ‘‘Reflections on the Sanctions Decade and Beyond’’, 64
International Journal at 539. For further explanation on some of the sanctions, see the
last section of this article.
2 Trade sanctions can generally be divided into unilateral and multilateral sanctions.
Multilateral sanctions are imposed by all countries in a given sanctions phenomenon
and such sanctions are supported by the international community. On the other hand,
unilateral sanctions are imposed by a country acting on its own /acting alone and may
not have international support. See Thihan Myo Nyun (2008), ‘‘Feeling Good or
Doing Good: Inefficacy of the US Unilateral Sanctions against the Military
Government of Burma/Myanmar’’, 7 Washington University Global Studies Law
Review 455 at 465.
3 Id., at 457.
4 Holly Cullen (1999), “The Limits of International Trade Mechanisms in Enforcing
Human Rights: The Case of Child Labour”, The International Journal of Children’s
Rights, Vol.7 at 1.
5 Trade measures related to human rights can be “inwardly directed” or “outwardly
directed.” Inwardly directed trade measures are targeted towards ensuring that human
rights are not violated within ones own territory. For instance, prohibition of
importation of meat products for a certain period on grounds that the meat products
imported from a given country can bring about health related problems (issues of
human right to health) is an “inwardly directed” measure. On the other hand,
outwardly directed trade measures, or commonly known as sanctions are targeted
towards ensuring promotion of human rights in other countries. If the US takes trade
measures against Syria aimed at promoting human rights in the country, the measure
becomes “outwardly directed”. The main focus of this article is on the latter measure.
For further explanation on types of human rights related trade measures, see Jenny
Schultz and Rachell Ball (2007), ‘‘Trade as a Weapon? The WTO and Human Rights-
Based Trade Measures”, Deakin Law Review, Vol. 12, No.1, at 43-44.