The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
10 Points

Economic Sanctions ought not be used to achieve foreign policy objectives.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/25/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,722 times Debate No: 12625
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)




Hello to whoever my opponent is,

This is an old topic from Jan/Feb 2010. Since schools starting up again, thought id refresh my LD skills. So the speech order will be:
1. AC
2. NC/NR
3. 1AR
4. 2NR
5. 2AR

Also, only accept if you are familiar with the structure and style of Lincoln-Douglas debate. If you are not, please do not accept this debate.



I affirm the resolution as stated.

SOR: Economic Sanctions ought not be used to achieve foreign policy objectives.

VP: Justice = fairness to all parties

VC: Human Rights. "As the performance of our duties of every kind depends on life, and the performing them with vigor and efficacy depends upon health, we are very strongly affected with whatever threatens the destruction of either. Burke"

C-1: Economic sanctions are unjust in regard to human rights because they have a history of ineffectiveness, thereby wasting time and effort. Research from the Heritage Foundation indicates that economic sanctions have proven to be effective a mere 36% of the time. This exercise in futility endangers the lives of all parties involved, thus unjust as it clearly hampers human rights.

C-2: Citizens of the country (ies) being sanctioned often bear the brunt of suffering while the intended targets enjoy status quo. This too is unjust in regard to Human Rights. The underlying premise is that the citizens will tire of any depravities, and thus either demand change or effect a change of leadership to alleviate their suffering. Either way, it often unjustly puts citizens in harm's way directly or indirectly. "Leaders often obtain things they need from other sources sympathetic to their cause, while their people continue to suffer those comforts. Orwell"

C-3: Sanctions also affect the citizens of the imposing nation (s) in the form of lost trade, and hurt feelings. Not only do they lose trade and capital, it also affects the symbiance and interelational harmony amongst nations. Nations will be forced to choose one side or the other, or attempt to ignore the situation by remaning neutral. This choice is humanely unjust to the citizens of countries because nations will likely harbor feelings of resentment toward one side or the other. Further, this goes against the concept of International Free Trade. By restricting free trade, economic sanctions have the potential to deprive businesses, ergo people, the right to earn the maximum profit in trade which is also unjust.

C-4: It is not feasible to impose true economic sanctions.
To effectively stop the flow of goods, the imposing country would have to surround the entire perimeter/border, control all seaports, control all mail, and all airports. Every parcel, every shipment would have to be inspected. Such control would not be tolerated. It would take extensive manpower, further endangering lives, and deprivation of human rights.

For these reasons, it does not pass the common sense test to use economic sanctions to achieve foreign policyobjectives.
Debate Round No. 1


Pretty simple: NC, AC. And mostly, I will be pretty straightforward.
I negate.
The criterion is Achieving Foreign Policy Objectives as it is stated in the resolution.

Observation: The affirmative must provide an alternative for achieving foreign policy objectives. Baldwin:

"Rational decision making requires the comparative evaluation of policy alternatives; thus any study of economic sanctions that purports to be relevant to the question of whether they should be used must take into account not only sanctions but the alternatives to sanctions. To justify a conclusion that "sanctions are a poor tool of statecraft," it is not enough to describe the disadvantages of sanctions; one must show that some other policy alternative is better. If the choice includes only the options of sinking or swimming, the observation that swimming is a "notoriously poor" way to get from one place to another is not very helpful."

Thus, my opponent has a duty to provide an alternative for foreign policy goals. If he or she cannot provide one, then you must negate. I negate for two reasons.

First, purging economic sanctions will promote human trafficking.

Currently, the US has a policy of sanctioning nations who fail to stop human trafficking, which effectively forces those countries to implement human trafficking policy. US Department of State:

"Pursuant to the TVPA, governments of countries on Tier 3 watch list for human trafficking will be subject to certain sanctions, whereby the U.S. Government may withhold humanitarian, trade-related foreign assistance. Consistent with the TVPA, governments subject to sanctions would also face U.S. opposition to assistance from international financial institutions."

The imposition of sanctions has empirically caused nations to increase their measures against trafficking. Human-Trafficking.Org:

"In 2005, six countries have avoided possible sanctions under the TVPA because of significant steps their governments have taken to fight trafficking. These governments are - Bolivia, Jamaica, Qatar, Sudan, Togo and the United Arab Emirates. These countries took concrete actions to prosecute traffickers, protect victims, and to prevent the crime of trafficking. They increased efforts to identify and rescue trafficking victims, crafted new anti-trafficking legislation and procedures among other significant measures."

Thus, sanctions have empirically caused nations to take steps against human trafficking. Without these sanctions, these countries would have no incentive to take a stand.

Second, environmental damage becomes indefinite without economic sanctions.

Trade restrictions such as the Montreal Protocol have been placed, and worked in the past to limit ozone layer depletion. Brack:

"Article 4 of the protocol required that parties ban the import of goods containing CFCs. There is direct evidence that trade provisions were important in persuading the Republic of Korea, which expanded CFC production, but realising the disadvantages of being shut out of Western markets, became a party."

Threat and use of economic sanctions to achieve environmental goals has previously been very successful. Drezner :

"Exactly half of these sanctions supporting environmental goals terminated at the threat stage. These threats were successful at a rate of 92 percent. The success rate when sanctions were imposed for environmental goals is still impressive (52%). In many cases, the target changed their behavior within a few days of the imposition of sanctions, after realizing that the sender's threat was not a bluff.

Ozone layer depletion can already be attributed to 60,000 premature deaths in the year 2000, more is to come. Menne:

"Globally, excessive solar UVR exposure has caused the loss of approximately 1.5 million life years and 60,000 premature deaths in the year 2000. Climate change will increase levels of UVR."

Ozone depletion decreases biodiversity. IHS:

"If ozone depletion is allowed to continue, our food chain will be seriously disrupted. phytoplankton are the base of the marine food chain. In Antarctica, there has been 50 percent ozone depletion causing high amounts of UV-B radiation to harm the productivity of phytoplankton, thereby reducing the food for animals that feed on phytoplankton.

A decrease in biodiversity leads to inevitable extinction. Diner:

"Human species may be critical in an indirect role, because their extirpations could affect a directly useful species negatively. The loss of a species affects other species dependent on it. As the number of species decline, the effect of each new extinction on the remaining species increases dramatically. Each new animal or plant extinction could cause total ecosystem collapse and extinction."

For these two reasons, I strongly urge a negative vote.


V: Since I did not provide my own value, we shall accept that my opponent's value will be the value for the round on both sides.

C: Human Rights. I respect my opponent's criterion, however, this criterion actually works against him as I will prove later on and works better for the negative.

C1: He says sanctions are unjust because of ineffectiveness and gives evidence from the Heritage Foundation. However, the evidence that 36% of sanctions are effective is a blunt statement. I would disagree with the evidence because if you look at my human trafficking and environment contentions in my NC, you can clearly see that the sanctions have actually prevented environmental damage and Human Trafficking. If sanctions can solve those problems, I do not see how the Heritage evidence can say that 36% of the time, sanctions are effective. Thus, his contention is rebutted.

C2: My opponent says that citizens living in sanctioned nations suffer from certain factors of sanctions. However, he fails to point out an example of when this has even occurred. In other words, he fails to give an example of empirical or pragmatic evidence to justify his claim that citizens suffer. Even if he provides evidence in the next round, my contention on human trafficking along with the biodiversity evidence in my speech shows that initiatives will prevent said things from happening as long as sanctions are imposed. Thus, this contention is disregarded.

C3: He repeats the same mistake he made in the last contention. Once again, there is no empirical evidence to support his claim that sanctions affect the citizens due to restrictions on free trade. When has there ever been an instance when this has occurred in the real world? My opponent cannot expect his argument to actually matter in the round if it has no empirical warrant? So, this contention falls.

C4: My opponent says it's not feasible to impose true sanctions. He then says that countries would have to control everything of the sanctioned nation. It is clear that my opponent has failed to understand what economic sanctions actually are. Sanctions are prohibitions put on restricted goods which means that if the U.S. puts sanctions against Spain, that means that Spain will not receive anything from the States. Nothing goes to Spain so there is nothing to guard in that country. So, this contention goes down.

Because I have successfully rebutted all of his contentions, he cannot possibly uphold his criterion of human rights. His criterion is better suited for my side of the debate round because by combating human trafficking and environmental damage, we are upholding human rights by preserving our species. Lastly, if he cannot provide an alternative for achieving foreign policy objectives (refer to Baldwin in my speech), then you must negate.

Even so, since all of his contentions are rebutted, I strongly urge you to vote negative.



Counter observation:
There are other measures which are either less restrictive, or more oppressive. Obviously, the least restrictive measures should be exhausted from lower to higher sequentially.
1) Diplomacy - Representatives from all parties discuss and resolve the matter(s) in conflict.
2) Non Economic Sanctions - Examples include: removing ambassadors, blocking votes, blocking memberships, or boycotting events.
Non-Economic Sanctions
A sender country also may apply non-economic sanctions against a target country to persuade its government to change policy. In contrast to economic sanctions, which are intended to penalize a target country financially, non-economic sanctions are aimed at denying legitimacy or prestige. Although the following list is not exhaustive, non-economic sanctions include:

Canceling ministerial and summit meetings with a target country;
Denying a target country's government officials visas to enter the sender country;
Withdrawing a sender country's ambassador or otherwise downgrading diplomatic and military contacts with a target country;
Blocking a target country from joining international organizations;
Opposing a target country's bid to host highly visible international events, such as the Olympics;
Withholding foreign aid; and
Instructing a sender country's directors to vote against new loans to a target country at the World Bank or other international financial institutions.

As requested, I have presented 2 examples of alternatives to economic sanctions.

OPP C-1:
My opponent would have us believe that if economic sanctions were lifted, the 6 countries, namely Bolivia, Jamaica, Qatar, Sudan, Togo, and the UAE would reverse their national rulings and resume human trafficking efforts. This implies that the economic sanctions, or threat thereof, MUST be in a perpetual state.

Therein lies no less than a certain degree of naiivity. Human trafficking is an international crime. The governments of countries have an obligation to stop and punish offenders within their jurisdictions. If human trafficking is a function of the federal government of any nation, they are guilty of international crime, which shoul dbe addressed by the international community.

OPP C-2:
Again, my opponent is citing a situation of global proportion. Canada is not the world police, nor is Korea the sole offender of green house gas release. Further, there are conflicting arguments, both with seemingly convincing evidence for and against global warming. Of the arguments for, there are yet further disagreements as to how much damage is natural, and how much is man-made.

Many nations are working to become more green friendly. Generally speaking, these examples are not of governments caving into pressure, but rather caving to police and enforce existing law.

DEFENSE of my positions:
My C-1: My bad, 34% not 36%. My opponent hand picked 2 successful examples. Here is the article I quoted.
A Poor Track Record
Historically, economic sanctions have a poor track record. Between 1914 and 1990, various countries imposed economic sanctions in 116 cases. They failed to achieve their stated objectives in 66 percent of those cases and were at best only partially successful in most of the rest.1 Since 1973, the success ratio for economic sanctions has fallen precipitously to 24 percent for all cases.2

My C-2: The 1997 economic sanctions against Iraq are a clear indicator. The 2009 economic sanctions against Gaza. Any rational human being doesn't have to have it spelled out for them to know that the innocent citizens of nations suffer indignity, lack of food/drink, lack of medicines, and diminish the opportunity for financial successes.

My C-3: Again, we are back to common sense. Do I need to cite numerous references of the obvious? When a country imposes sanctions against another country, they are losing economic trade with that country. There is no exchange of goods and services at least for the items being sanctioned. Therefore, the imposing country is in fat losing commerce with the sanctioned nation. Further, by multilateral sanctions, other nations who would otherwise have traded with the nation being sanctioned have also lost trade. Therefore, economic sanctions have interrupted international free trade.

My C-4: Oversimplified. Suppose the U.S. places an economic sanction against Spain against wheat. Not only will Spain not be allowed to receive wheat from the U.S., they will not be allowed to receive wheat from anywhere. Simply cutting off wheat from one supplier will not achieve the desired effect if they can get the item from another supplier.

Without engaging in a semantics/definition game, we should have more clearly defined economic sanctions.

I have given examples of how economic sanctions are in fact harmful to human rights as well as given worthy alternatives to imposing economic sanctions. I respectfully request a PRO ballot.
Debate Round No. 2


Order is NC, AC.


Alternatives to Sanctions

1) Diplomacy: My opponent provides diplomacy as a possible alternative to sanctions. While I do respect him for attempting to present one, there is a fundamental flaw in diplomacy. Just because diplomats can go to foreign countries, does not mean that they have access to every country in the world. This is because we are not friendly with the country due to some reason. Prime Minister Putin of Russia, for instance, would probably not like Americans coming to his country since he strongly blames the US for the war with Georgia (

2) Non Economic Sanctions: I concede this alternative as a method of achieving foreign policy goals. However, for the purpose of this debate, we should still argue my opponent's contentions, for they affect what his real-world situation looks like.

C1: My opponent criticizes my first contention in a very flawed way. First of all, he says that I am making everyone believe that if sanctions were lifted, those 6 countries I mentioned would resume trafficking efforts. He completely misinterprets the meaning of my contention. The claim I brought up was that we can threaten countries with sanctions if they do not combat trafficking. So if they do not combat trafficking, they get sanctioned and if they do combat trafficking, they will not get sanctioned. Further, I have no idea where he is going with the second paragraph. He says that the international community should address human trafficking. I do agree, but he is yet to explain how they are going to address it.

C2: He says I am citing a situation of global proportion. Of course! The resolution does not imply any specific country, so we can talk about any country in the world that has a connection to sanctions. I am not trying to say that Canada is the sole protector of environment-friendly behavior. I even gave an example pertaining Antarctica where phytoplankton has been severely reduced. Since many marine animals rely on phytoplankton for health, biodiversity will decrease. And biodiversity leads to extinction!


C1: He clarifies the evidence which I totally respect him for. I do believe that this argument still stands for him in the round. However, I urge voters to look back to my human trafficking and environment contentions. The sanctions that were used in human trafficking successfully brought 6 countries to fight against trafficking (see evidence). And the sanctions used to prevent environmental damage were at a success rate of 92% (see Drezner evidence). This evidence clearly shows how effective sanctions really are at achieving foreign policy objectives. His evidence simply says that 34% of sanctions have been effective and because of those sanctions from 1914-1990, we shouldn't use them. Once again, look back to the human trafficking and environment contentions.

C2: He gives an example of sanctions that were used which were the 1997 sanctions in Iraq and the 2009 sanctions against Gaza. Now, the 1997 sanctions in Iraq were necessary because they entered a war against Kuwait. Secondly, Saddam Hussein was still dictator and the time and obviously we are not going to just stand by and watch a dictator obliterate another country. For the 2009 sanctions against Gaza, Israel issued those sanctions because Gaza launched a rocket as a means to attack Israel. Of course Israel is going to sanction them if they pose a threat.

C3: Okay, I accept that my opponent says it is common sense. Now, with his international free trade argument, just because sanctions interrupt free trade partially, that does not stop the entire flow of free trade. If the Philippines stop flow of free trade to Kenya, Kenya can still trade with other countries. Also, once again, I urge voters to look back at my environment and trafficking contentions. In my opponent's world, we have no sanctions and we let the environment get damaged, destroy the marine food chain, and let victims succumb to trafficking crimes. So I please urge you to favor me on this contention argument.

C4: My opponent is completely mistaken on this contention. He gives his example of the United States and Spain, which I completely praise him for trying. However, just because the U.S. sanctions Spain, that does not mean they will get sanctioned by other countries. In other words, just because some guy attacks me, that does not mean that anybody else will. And even if he wants to show his example to be true, he does not even have evidence to show that all countries would participate in such a sanction against Spain (or some other country that does not have to be Spain).

So for all the arguments and rebuttals I have given against my opponent, I firmly urge voters to please vote Negative/Con because my opponent's real-world situation is a disaster where marine animals die and where people die due to human trafficking. Thus, please negate and vote Neg/Con.


I applaud my opponent for a good contest as well as his stances on environmental protection and human trafficking.

Both are significant issues, the latter was highlighted on an episode of Law & Order and Lethal Weapon.

Unfortunately, this debate is about the overall effectiveness of economic sanctions, and the moral good thereof.
Simply insisting that economic sanctions are a viable solution based upon 2 handpicked success stories is not enough to convince me that they are the way to go. Let's examine the results:

The economic sanctions report my opponent cited was dated 2005, yet in 2008 there were 32 new cases in Bolivia alone. What happened with the sanctions?

Togo simply redefined what constitutes human trafficking. Between 2002-2007, 20 Togoese girls were brougth to New Jersey under the guise of a hair salon, where are the sanctions?

UAE has had thousands in the last 2 years, where are the sanctions?

A simple google search demonstartes that I do not need to go on to show the ineffectiveness of these sanctions just 5 years removed from their application.

I defend Diplomacy as the first step in the resolution of conflict. Diplomacy is the least restrictive and least invasive of approaches. My opponent conceded non economic sanctions as a viable alternative. My paragraph 2 was an inference of nation's inherent responsibility to police themselves of international crime. This should be pre-emptive of any other measures endorsed by the U.N. or any humane organizations.

My opponent led us down a tangent of another partial success story of Canada vs Korea, and chased another rabbit regarding phytoplankton in Antarctica. Again, I agree that everyone should become better stewards of our natural resources, yet it does not really apply to the resolution at hand.

My opponent seems to have mixed up the dates of 1997 Iraq with 1990 Iraq. Further, that example was to shed light on the atrocities the common Iraqi citizen had to endure as a result of those sanctions. Similarly, the suffering of citizens due to the sanctions in Gaza/Hamas were even more devastating.

My example of the interruption of free trade goes hand in hand against my opponent's argument. It has a 3 fold effect:
1) The imposing nation(s) lose trade.
2) The nations being sanctioned loses trade.
3) Other nations lose trade.

Also, my opponent failed to take into consideration the differences between unilaterally imposed sanctions, versus mulitlaterally imposed sanctions.

I have demonstrated that:
A) Economic sanctions have proven largely unsuccessful (64% unsuccessful)
B) Economic sanctions can be inhumane (Iraq & Gaza)
C) There ARE viable alternatives to economic sanctions (diplomacy & non economic sanctions)

For these reasons, I respectfully request a PRO ballot.

Thank you to my opponent and the judges.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Ninja_Tru 8 years ago
Yeah, you talked about the effectiveness of sanctions on those countries in the second round, which was good, and the Pro rebutted the success of the sanctions in the final speech. The issue I have is that he should have rebutted in the very next speech, instead of the last speech, where you're not able to refute those rebuttals. New arguments in the last speech are almost always unfair.
Posted by savvyboy781 8 years ago
Hi Ninja_Tru,

Thank you for posting my comment. But i would like to say just for the record, that the argument about those countries (i.e. Togo, UAE, etc.) was in my NC. Look in the second speech in the round at the evidence.
Posted by Ninja_Tru 8 years ago
I'm more of a CX-y judge, so sorry if that corrupts the way I viewed this debate.

Good use of evidence on both sides. I voted Pro for arguments.

By the end of the debate, the Con has put himself in an uphill battle by making mostly defensive responses and few clarifications for how they affect the round in general. Only the Pro made some arguments about how I, the judge, should be viewing this debate. A good debater should leave no doubts in the judge's mind about how he should measure all the evidence, and the Pro is telling me in a neat lil list to think about 1) failures of sanctions, 2) the inhumanity of sanctions, and 3) the alternatives. That's basically 1) defense, 2) offense, and 3) a sidestep of the Con's case. I'm already sympathetic to voting Pro when he's given me a menu to order from.

Still, I want to point out that Pro made a ton of new arguments in the last speech, which is really unfair since the Con can't respond to any of them. Those comments on Togo, UAE, and Bolivia were un-evidenced and brand-new for the last speech. Although they were very passionate, I didn't weigh them in the least. However, the menu didn't require using any of this evidence and safely used extended evidence, so it was good.

So, the menu summed it up nicely. Sanctions can be inhumane, they may fail sometimes which diminishes any "humaneness" they try to solve for, and they aren't that necessary when other stuff can solve the same "humaneness" of the Con's case. This means that the Pro accesses human rights and justice better and wins. Again, sorry if my CX-y view doesn't make sense here; I'm only vaguely familiar with LD procedure.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by twsurber 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by Ninja_Tru 8 years ago
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