Secondary Sanctions: A Weapon Out of Control?

Series of three blog posts on the permissibility of secondary sanctions under the law of jurisdiction; under conventional law, and; possible judicial remedies for States affected by secondary sanctions.

Lately, the US has increasingly been ‘weaponizing’ economic sanctions to push through a foreign policy agenda. (...) US sanctions do not only govern economic relations between the US and the target state (‘primary sanctions’), but also relations between third states and target states (‘secondary sanctions’). These secondary sanctions do not just aim to coerce targeted states to change political course, but also third states. As secondary sanctions limit third states’ sovereignty to freely conduct their external economic relations with other states, they raise deep legitimacy questions. Third states may consider secondary sanctions to violate the principle of non-intervention, and to be extraterritorial in nature, in violation of constraints imposed by the international law of jurisdiction, in addition to other potential breaches.

In a series of three blogposts we address three issues that are central to the legal debate on secondary sanctions: (1) the permissibility of secondary sanctions in light of the customary international law of state jurisdiction; (2) their permissibility in light of multilateral and bilateral conventions concluded by the targeting and third states; (3) the availability of judicial mechanisms to contest the legality of secondary sanctions.