Economic Sanctions and Human Rights: Quantifying the Legal Proportionality Principle

Universität Trier Research Papers in Economics No. 2/18

24 Pages Posted: 22 May 2018

See all articles by Jerg Gutmann

Jerg Gutmann

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law and Economics

Matthias Neuenkirch

University of Trier - Faculty of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Florian Neumeier

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute

Armin Steinbach

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; Oxford University - Nuffield College; German Federal Ministry of Finance

Date Written: May 9, 2018

Abstract

The proportionality principle, as the cardinal principle of international law, includes a necessity and a proportionality test, both of which rest on empirical premises. The necessity test involves an assessment of whether a legal sanction is well-suited to achieve its objective. The proportionality test questions the causal link between the sanction and the human rights situation in the country against which the sanction is aimed. This study analyzes the empirical basis of the proportionality principle by examining the consequences of economic sanctions for the target country’s human rights situation. We use endogenous treatment‐regression models to test the empirical basis of the proportionality principle by estimating the causal average treatment effect of US economic sanctions on different types of human rights within a uniform empirical framework. We find that economic sanctions do not pass the legal necessity test in cases where the purpose of the sanctions is to improve the human rights situation. On the contrary, we find that such sanctions actually lead to a deterioration of the human rights situation. Moreover, our finding that the sanctions have no effect on basic, economic, and emancipatory human rights calls into question the dominant view that economic sanctions are disproportionate. On a general note, our study underscores the empirical contingencies of a core legal principle under international and national law.

Suggested Citation

Gutmann, Jerg and Neuenkirch, Matthias and Neumeier, Florian and Steinbach, Armin, Economic Sanctions and Human Rights: Quantifying the Legal Proportionality Principle (May 9, 2018). Universität Trier Research Papers in Economics No. 2/18, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3175885 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3175885

Jerg Gutmann

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law and Economics ( email )

Johnsallee 35
Hamburg, 20148
Germany

Matthias Neuenkirch (Contact Author)

University of Trier - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Universitätsring 15
Trier, 54296
Germany
+49 - (0)651 - 201 - 2629 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uni-trier.de/index.php?id=50130

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Florian Neumeier

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Armin Steinbach

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt Schumacher Str 10
Bonn, 53113
Germany

Oxford University - Nuffield College ( email )

New Road
Oxford, OX1 1NF
United Kingdom

German Federal Ministry of Finance ( email )

Wilhelmstrasse 13
Berlin, 11019
Germany

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