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The American Journal of International Law Unbound, which supplements the American Journal of International Law’s print edition by publishing short, original essays online, recently posted a symposium on unilateral targeted sanctions. The symposium includes an introduction by Anne van Aaken and essays by Antonios Tzanakopoulos, Devika Hovell, David Cohen & Zachary Goldman, Joshua Zoffer, Elena Chachko and Alexandra Hofer. Chachko, Goldman, Tzanakopoulos and Hofer also contributed to Unbound’s first video symposium, in which they reflect at greater length about the topics on which they wrote.
In their written essays and video clips, the contributors explore and debate the legality, efficacy, legitimacy and durability of sanctions that states adopt without multilateral authorization. On one hand, states increasingly resort to unilateral targeted sanctions to shape foreign government behavior and enforce international law, particularly where the Security Council is stymied. On the other hand, some actors view these sanctions as subject to abuse and, in certain cases, unlawful. As the United States, Canada, and European states continue to deploy these sanctions against actors in Russia, Syria, Venezuela, and elsewhere, these essays do a good job framing the key questions in this debate.