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Economic sanctions and the duration of civil conflicts

  • Economics
  • Mathematics


This article studies the impact of economic sanctions on the duration and outcome of intrastate conflicts. Sanctions are argued to foster the convergence of beliefs over parties' capacity, to reduce the utility of victory and to increase the costs of continuing fighting. Using a sample of 87 wars and new data on sanctions and sanction types, the author shows that sanctions and their durations are statistically associated with shorter intrastate conflicts. It is also shown that total economic embargoes are the most effective type of coercive measure in these cases and that sanctions imposed either by international organizations or by other actors have similar negative effects on war duration. In the second part of the article, the dependent variable is disaggregated, and I demonstrate that sanctions imposed by international institutions increase the likelihood of conflict resolution, whereas those sanctions not imposed by such institutions tend to increase the probability of a military victory. Moreover, if the targeted state is a member of the international institution imposing the sanctions, the effect of such coercion is even greater. Economic embargoes are also proven to increase the likelihoods of a military and a negotiated end, whereas international arms embargoes reduce the likelihood of a military victory.

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