The Blockade of Qatar: Where Coercive Diplomacy Fails, Principles of Law Should Prevail


Yaser Khalaileh


Contemporary international law has developed a cautious attitude toward the use of coercive diplomacy, specifically in the deployment of economic sanctions in the form of boycotting or blockading one sovereign state by another. If used unilaterally or collectively, particularly in the absence of a UN mandate, such coercive measures have often failed to change the policies of target states. In particular, economic sanctions have proven ineffectual in achieving the desired results and have instead caused unintended consequences on the complex global economic stage. Economic sanctions have had severe negative impacts on international trade and they often infringe on the basic pillars of human rights, politics, and morals. Indeed, resorting to such sanctions has achieved little success in rectifying disputed matters between opponent states. As such, the debate surrounding the possibility of producing a specific legal framework on the use of economic sanctions continues. To this end, and in light of what the state of Qatar has recently suffered from its neighboring states, this paper argues that the economic sanctions imposed on Qatar are a clear case of an extraterritorial application of sanctions that has generated immense political controversy and international resentment. Furthermore, this dubious application of sanctions and the resulting blockade of Qatar (it is undoubtedly a “blockade”, given the geography of the region and the intensity of actions taken) represent a breach of international legal norms embedded in both customary and treaty law.




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