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

economic sanctions ought not be used to achieve forign policy objectives

Do you like this debate?NoYes+2
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/22/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,302 times Debate No: 10921
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




i will allow the affirmative to argue first , if you accept this debate please do not do it half heartedly and quit half way through!!! thanks in advance!!!!


Thank you for the opportunity to debate this, I will post this variation of my case.
As this is the LD topic I will do this in the LD format.

"…it is important to observe that when Europe or the United Nations imposes sanctions that are supposed to be aimed against a certain regime, usually generally millions of people end up being directly punished."

These words of Omar Bongo, a former Gabonese Resident, show that Economic Sanctions, regardless of their intentions, harm the innocent. This is why I agree with Omar Bongo in my affirmation of the resolution; Economic sanctions ought not to be used to achieve foreign policy objectives.
For Clarification, I offer definitions for three of the key terms and phrases in the resolution.
Economic Sanctions (from are economic penalties, such as stoppage of trade and financial transactions, imposed upon a country to force compliance with another country's or UN's or WTO's demands.
Ought (from Webster's Revised and Unabridged Dictionary) to be bound in duty or by moral obligation.
Achieve (from Random House Dictionary) to bring to a successful end.

Observation. The objective of an Economic Sanction is to influence changes in foreign states. The way this works is trade to that foreign state is cut off or heavily taxed so as to hurt that foreign nation's economy. If this can be done it is assumed that poor conditions will make the citizens of said nation miserable, the citizenry will then pressure their own government into making changes, or possibly inciting a revolution.

Value. The resolution is essentially posing the question, "what tools can be used to achieve a foreign policy goal." The notion of limiting what can be done suggests that it pertains to the morality of the situation. As the previous quote stated, Economic Sanctions punish people not directly involved with the targeted regime. It is by this that I choose to value Human Rights in this round.

Criterion. To understand the morality of a situation as it pertains to Human Rights I propose the application of Kant's categorical imperative. Kant's categorical imperative can be used to establish morals concerning interaction between people.
Kant argued that morality is a standard that applies to the intentions behind an action.
"The first premise is that a person acts morally if his or her conduct would, without condition, be the "right" conduct for any person in similar circumstances (the "First Maxim"). The second premise is that conduct is "right" if it treats others as ends in themselves and not as means to an end (the "Second Maxim"). The conclusion is that a person acts morally when he or she acts as if his or her conduct was establishing a universal law governing others in similar circumstances (the "Third Maxim")."
A simple test to determine this may be whether another moral agent-another human being-is used as a means to one's own end. What this means is that any action that uses a moral agent as a means is morally prohibited as an encroachment of the rights of that moral agent/human.
This criterion achieves my value of human rights because of 3 main reasons:
1.Simplicity- the criterion provides an easy test for any action, not does it require extensive knowledge of world.
2.Certainty- by basing the morality on the action rather than on the outcome then there is no variability in determining infringement on Human Rights.
3.Universality- The standard set by this does not depend on the circumstances in which an action is taken. The resulting judgment will be generalized statements like the resolution is.
So if a rigorous enactment of the provisions indicated in Kant's categorical imperative commence, Human Rights will be upheld.

Contention 1. Respect for Foreign Citizens
My first contention is that Economic sanctions do not respect the rights of citizens of foreign nations. This is done by using the residents of the foreign nation as the means to an end, that end being the foreign policy objective.
Charles A. Rarick, a professor of Management at Barry University, and partner Martine Duchatelet said in a 2008 issue of the Economic Affairs Journal:

"The theory operating behind sanctions is to cause as much pain as possible to the people of a receiving country in order for pressure to be brought on the government. The citizens of the sanctioned country are used as a means to achieve the foreign policy objectives of the sanctioning country."

This means that the mechanics behind a sanction is to make life miserable among citizens so that they might pressure change in that country or even incite revolution.
A specific example is that of Iraq.
According to the same article written by Rarick and Duchatelet: Sanctions in Iraq caused the price of basic food production to greatly increase, resulting in inadequate nutrition, caused a decline of health care, and led to the collapse of the national currency. According to UNICEF, economic sanctions against Iraq resulted in the doubling of the death rate for children less than five years of age. The organization reports that the sanctions made it very difficult for parents to provide needed medicines, food and safe drinking water for their children, and estimates that they resulted in the deaths of 500,000 children under the age of five between 1991 and 1998.
As this violates Human Rights according to the Kant's categorical imperative, such actions as placing sanctions ought not to be done.

Contention 2. Respect for Domestic Citizens
My second contention is that economic sanctions also violate citizens of the sanctioning country as much as it does the sanctioned country. When a sanction is declared a precedent is set to not trade with the sanctioned, either because it is off-limits or because of raised prices. Either way it deprives those citizens from being able to make business transactions within the sanctioned nation.
According to Daniel Griswold, a director at CATO Institute;

The proliferation of trade sanctions in the last decade has been accompanied by their declining effectiveness. From Cuba to Iran to Burma, sanctions have failed to achieve the goal of changing the behavior or the nature of target regimes. Sanctions have, however, deprived American companies of international business opportunities [and] punished domestic consumers.
To back this up Griswold cites the president's Export Council with claims that;
"The United States has imposed more than 40 trade sanctions against about three-dozen countries between 1993 and 2000.
The council estimates that those sanctions have cost American exporters $15 billion to $19 billion in lost annual sales overseas and caused long-term damage to U.S. companies--lost market share and reputations abroad as unreliable suppliers."

Economic Sanctions basically restricts the set of option that a business person has. It tells a new business that they cannot export to Cuba, for example. The restriction is not chosen by this business person – as they could if they simply retrained from trade with some partners – but forces this choice upon them. As a result economic sanctions uses these business people as a means to the end of foreign policy goals. Doing so violates the instruction against using moral agents as a means.

I therefore conclude that economic sanctions are morally prohibited because they infringe upon the rights of citizens of a sanctioned nation and the businesses of the sanctioning nation by using them as a means to an end.
Debate Round No. 1


thanks to my opponent for accepting this debate.
cross ex:

would you say that if someone has done something wrong that there should be an consequence?

clarify human rights

neg constructive:
Good day, I negate the resolved that "economic sanctions ought not be used to achieve forign policy objectives",
I will first build my own case and then attack my opponents.
for the purpose of clarification i will now state and contradict definitions.
economic sanction- restrictions on certain components causing harm by one or more nations upon another.
my value premise is protection of society
my criteria is responsibility and that it is the responsibility of nations to ensure protection of society.

contention 1- punishment should fit the crime
when a crime has been committed, it stands to reason that punishment or consequence should be imposed. there is a system of tools to use of increasing severity to right a wrong, when it comes to government policy. beginning with deplomacy, moving to non-economic sanctions to sanctions to military actions.
a- obviaously one should begin with deplomacy however, when deplomacy fails, the next step is non-economic sanctions. examples:
cancelation of summit meetings
blocking membership to international organizations
withholding forign aid
denying loans
b- when both deplomacy, and non-economic sanctions fail to achieve desired result, economic sanctions are the last recognized step before going to war.

contention2- the nation being sanctioned determines what will be sanctioned (i.e. materials causing harm) for example:
the gout of israel may impose sanctions on iran to deny them recieving centerfuge materials such as plutonium in an effort to keep them from developing nuclear weapons. this would be a reasonable and justified way to help ensure protection of society and their own citizens.

contention 3- protection of society is everyones responsibility.
to help ensure protection of the world and its people it is the responsibility of nations to keep others in check when it comes to matters such as stopping attacks and going to war. that is why sanctions are a good thing and are used to help keep people out of harms way.

i will now attack my opponents case:
i will first contradict my opponents observation : okay yes economic sanctions are used to influence change in forign policy, but that doesnot mean that all materials are to be cut off nor that the people of the sanctioned country have to suffer, only that components causing harm are to be cut off to reduce harm to society.
to contradict my opponents value of human rights okay yeah people have a right to freedom , but which should come first, freedom or safty?
and to attack my opponents criteria: how are sanctions imorral if no harm is comming to the people being sanctioned?
it is infact moral to ensure protection before freedom.
it to me seems that both my opponents value and criteria meet my argument better than they do his.
my opponets sub point 1 is not even relevant to this argument.
2. as i said, i feel that his value and criteria fit my argument better than his.
3. as i also said sanctions do not mean restricting everything there for making sub point3 invalid.
contention 1 : respect to forign citizens , okay really i could have used this for the negative and made it work.
we are respecting forign citizens by protecting them and as i have stated at least twice we are not violating their rights when we are not taking away none but materials causing harm. their lives are not going to be miserable if we are not taking away food or water or medication.
the same with his contention 2 we are not restricting everything, JUST THE COMPONETS CAUSING HARM!!!!!!!
sanctions are put in place to help reduce harm and also to contradict both of his contentions if they have done something to deserve sanctions(see my cont.1) then they obviously do not respect other nations or their own because they know that there will be consequences. for the reasons that i have stated above i urge a negative ballot, thank you.


would you say that if someone has done something wrong that there should be an consequence?

clarify human rights

"would you say that if someone has done something wrong that there should be an consequence?"

Yes certainly, if someone violates or infringes upon another they are deserving of reprimanding. But only they, the offender, are to be given any consequence. The innocent that surround him/her should not be allowed to be caught in the crossfire.

As Economic Sanctions use the citizen to cause changes this is not a just way of delivering that consequence.

"clarify human rights"

Certainly, I define Human Rights as inalienable rights that all people do or morally should posses. To go farther, I would use the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (signed December 10, 1948 buy the General assembly of the UN) as a document listing what I hold as Human Rights.
- - -
Now my Cross Ex:
Can an Economic Sanction be used for more than just issues involving a nation causing harm upon another? Explain.

Who determines what punishment fits the crime?

Would you say that Economic Sanctions are a better option than Just War? Explain.

How can the nation being sanctioned determine what will be sanctioned? Doesn't the sanctioning country decide this?

Do all materials need to be cut off for citizens to feel the effects of a sanction?

Would you say Safety is a Human Right? Why or why not?

Why do you talk of "Sub Point 1, 2, and 3" when I only have two contentions, of which these seem to not be what you reference?

If we take something away from a country, can that affect their economy? If it does can that cause other things to become hard to come by? Explain.


after my opponent responds I will give my rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 2


thanks to my opponent for answering cross ex!
"Can an Economic Sanction be used for more than just issues involving a nation causing harm upon another? Explain."
okat, i am assuming that they could be used to influence other things and i appologize, i know that this is your cross ex, but i answer that with a question, have they been?

Who determines what punishment fits the crime?
the crime determines the punishment , example, the death penalty, when a person has multiple offences of murder then they will recieve the death penalty.

Would you say that Economic Sanctions are a better option than Just War? Explain.
i think that they can be , war is costly in lives and the point of economic sanctions is to protect lives.

How can the nation being sanctioned determine what will be sanctioned? Doesn't the sanctioning country decide this?
i answer this the same as the crime - punishment question, the offence determines the crime.

i am not sure that i understand this question , but as you said the citizens should not have to suffer that is why only the components causing harm are sanctioned.

Would you say Safety is a Human Right? Why or why not?
i would and as i have said several times , the point of economic sanctions is to help ensure safty.

Why do you talk of "Sub Point 1, 2, and 3" when I only have two contentions, of which these seem to not be what you reference?
merely the big parts of your contentions , i appologize if i have confused you, i should have clarified that point.
i now await affirmative rebuttal.


I still stand in firm affirmation of the Resolution: economic sanctions ought not be used to achieve foreign policy objectives.

I will first go through my opponent's case then with remaining time (characters) I will strengthen my own.

My opponent's definition has no source and is narrowed to a specific type of Sanction, mine however has a source and is broad. Therefore, my definition stands and hers falls.

The Value "protection of society" is not fitting with my opponent's position as economic sanctions do not protect society but harm it.

Contention 1- punishment should fit the crime

I would agree that the punishment should fit the crime. The problem with this is that deciding what punishment fits a crime is difficult and irregular. Our issue we are trying to solve is what is the morally correct way to go about placing these punishments.

Kant's Categorical Imperative is what I am advocating to determine the morality of a situation. I provided three reasons why Kant's Categorical Imperative is fitting with regards to my Value of Human Rights. I cannot tell if my opponent tried to attack these or not, but as she simply dismissed them without explanation, she did so without providing another test to determine morality. Therefore my meter by which to determine morality stands as the way we will determine the morality of any situation in this debate.

By Kant's Categorical Imperative, it is evident that Economic Sanctions are an unfitting crime. Those in power committed a crime and it is the lower class that feels the brunt of it. The citizens who are being used as a means to an end, thus failing to pass Kant's Categorical Imperative.

Contention 2- the nation being sanctioned determines what will be sanctioned

This is a ridiculous claim, the sanctioning country chooses what is sanctioned every time.
An example was brought up about murder. It was stated that if someone murdered a person that they will therefore get the death penalty. But it isn't so black and white as that. The claim was that by killing the person chose the death penalty for themselves, however the law states that a Jury of 12 must unanimously decide on the death penalty, therefore it is the Jury's choice not the murderer's.

contention 3- protection of society is every ones responsibility.

And by placing a sanction we are indirectly harming society, thus failing our responsibility.

To sum up, yes we should start with diplomacy and non-economic sanctions. But we should, every time, skip the economic sanction step and go into a justified war.

By meeting the Just War Theory we will be providing a fair and direct effort to prevent whatever problems we are focused on. In Just War Theory it is only those in Uniform, not civilians, who are fighting. Any Civilian loss must be proportional to the militaristic advantage gained. Plus by enacting a war we can effectively go straight at the "materials causing harm" rather than going through the civilians.

By doing this we can protect the human rights on both sides, by supporting domestic affairs such as business and by not instigating intentional harm upon foreign citizens.

For these reasons I urge a ballot in affirmation.
Debate Round No. 3


lovedebate forfeited this round.


Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this debate. I will quickly go over my points:

1) Sanctions are immoral because they violate human rights. I measure this by using Kant's Categorical Imperative. Basically the people are being used like tools in order to accomplish something.

2) Sanctions cause harm. They deprive local and foreign citizens of economic opportunities such as trade and business.

3) Sanctions don't accomplish their goal because they are, by their nature, ambiguous. Simply hoping the citizens would do what was intended.

4) Just War is a better option because it is more direct, going around the innocent citizen and striking directly at the tyrants in control.

Thank you and remember, vote Aff.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by lovedebate 6 years ago
thanks for debateing this topic with me but i kinda wish that other people had voted cause i didnt want to vote for myself.
Posted by Demauscian 6 years ago
if any of my questions do not make sense then please ask me to clarify here in the comments.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Demauscian 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03