Sanctions and their Impact on Children

Camila Teixeira
Zoë Pelter

In recent years, sanctions have become an increasingly popular instrument for reprimanding and exerting pressure on states and non-state actors. Member States applying sanctions often count on broad public support compared to alternative, riskier and costly options, such as military interventions.

Notwithstanding a significant overhaul in the design and application of sanctions over the past two decades to strengthen their precision, the collateral effects of sanctions on civilians, especially children and vulnerable populations, are inescapable. We assess the harm to which children are subjected in targeted territories as a result of the economy-wide damage caused by sanctions and disruption to humanitarian operations.

This paper focuses especially on the impact of ‘targeted sanctions’ which are being increasingly used. We draw particular attention to the regimes instituted by the United States (US) government as the most frequent imposer of sanctions. We also explore in more detail the effects of sanctions in countries subject to multiple sanctions imposed by different entities and on which substantive evidence exists, namely, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).