In the last episode of Season 2, I speak with Aslı Bâli, Professor of Law at UCLA in the United States, and Co-Director of the Middle East Division of Human Rights Watch, among other things. She specializes in both international law as it relates to armed conflict and human rights, and on comparative constitutional law with a focus on the Middle East. We discuss the lawfulness of comprehensive autonomous economic sanctions, and the relationship they may have with the various regimes that govern the use of force and armed conflict. Economic sanctions are often viewed as a legitimate and effective alternative to the use of force in international relations. Yet comprehensive sanctions can and do cause the kind of humanitarian harm and economic disruption that in other circumstances could be unlawful under IHL, or constitute a use of force if caused by cyber operations or even naval blockade, and they are potentially in violation of human rights law. So aside from the ethical and strategic questions that they pose, economic sanctions raise legal issues, including issues at the intersection with the laws of war—which we explore in a fascinating conversation!
– “Sanctions are Inhumane – Now , and Always,” The Boston Review, Mar. 26, 2020.
– Dapo Akande, Payam Akhavan, and Eirik Bjorge, “Economic Sanctions, International Law, and Crimes Against Humanity: Venezuela’s Referral to the International Criminal Court,” American Journal of International Law, Apr. 29, 2021.
– Joy Gordon, Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions (2010).
– Alex de Waal, Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine (2018).
– Nicholas Mulder and Boyd van Dijk, “Why Did Starvation Not Become the Paradigmatic War Crime in International Law?” in Ingo Venzke and Kevin Jon Heller eds., Contingency in International Law (2021).
– Tom Dannenbaum, “Encirclement, Deprivation, and Humanity: Revising the San Remo Manual Provisions on Blockade,” 97 International Law Studies 307 (2021).