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Economic Sanctions Hurt the Poor, Sick, and Vulnerable, Shows Report

The study finds that they affect the living conditions of the majority population of the targeted countries by making them poorer and more precarious.

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An Afghan child is at an internally displaced persons camp in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan on May 23, 2023. (Photo by Saifurahman Safi/Xinhua)

study published by the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) has revealed that economic sanctions, often illegally imposed, have a lasting negative impact on the populations in targeted countries and almost never achieve their stated goals.

The study “Human Consequences of Economic Sanctions” by Francisco Rodriguez, examines the evidence and arguments presented in 32 studies of sanctioned economies, mostly poor and Global South countries. It concludes that “[it] is hard to think of other policy interventions that continue to be pursued amid so much evidence of their adverse and often deadly effects on vulnerable populations,” particularly when they are extremely ineffective in achieving most of their stated goals.

The study finds that they affect the living conditions of the majority population of the targeted countries by making them poorer and more precarious. This is largely because targeted governments have a reduced capacity to maintain social and economic policies that support most of the population, especially the most vulnerable.

The CEPR report also notes that the negative impact of economic sanctions on people is well-known by policymakers and experts. Often, the report says, the worsening of economic conditions in targeted countries is precisely the intention of the measures, in the hope that there will be political upheaval in response.

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