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European sanctions reconsidered: regime type, strategic bargaining, and the imposition of EU sanctions

Guijarro Usobiaga, Borja (2015) European sanctions reconsidered: regime type, strategic bargaining, and the imposition of EU sanctions. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Since the end of the Cold War, the European Union (EU) has become a prominent sender of international sanctions. Most of its sanctions regimes have been imposed to address human rights violations and democratic shortcomings in autocratic regimes. While these developments have attracted an increased attention by academics and practitioners alike, not much is known about the underlying factors that trigger the EU’s decision to impose sanctions in the very first place. Using a new database of EU democratic sanctions between 1989 and 2010, this thesis develops a theoretical model that shows that the imposition of sanctions is the result of a strategic bargaining process between a sender and a target country. I argue that sanctions are only one possible outcome of this process, and claim that the likelihood that sanctions are imposed depends, to a large extent, on the target country’s decision to comply with the sender before sanctions are imposed or, alternatively, on its determination to ignore the sender’s threat of sanctions and resist its pressure. I show that the target’s decision to comply or resist is the result of an endogenous policy formation process, which is determined by the target regime’s domestic institutional setting. Different types of institutions (regime types) impose varying degrees of constraints on the ruler’s margin of manoeuvre and shape her policy choices vis-à-vis the threat and imposition of sanctions. I demonstrate that regimes that face no domestic constraints and rely on a small winning coalition of supporters are likely to be strong and willing to resist the sender’s pressure, thereby “self-selecting” themselves into sanctions. By the same token, regimes that face many domestic constraints are vulnerable to sanctions, and face incentives to comply with the sender before sanctions are imposed. My thesis makes several contributions to the literature. First, it provides a theoretical explanation of how domestic institutions matter in the imposition of sanctions, and identifies a set of conditions under which sanctions are more likely (not) to be imposed. Second, it empirically demonstrates the presence of selection effects in the study of sanctions imposition, and shows that these are channelled through the target regime’s domestic institutions. Finally, my findings have relevant policy implications, as they suggest that sanctions are more likely to be effective against certain types of targets. I show that sanctions are more likely to succeed against politically constrained regimes at the threat stage or early during a sanctions episode, whilst they are likely to fail against highly authoritarian regimes which rule free of domestic constraints.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Borja Guijarro Usobiaga
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Sedelmeier, Ulrich and Baccini, Leo

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