Original Research

Economic sanctions: an ethical primer

H. J.G. Zandman
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 42, No 3 | a279 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v42i3.279 | © 2008 H. J.G. Zandman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 July 2008 | Published: 27 July 2008

About the author(s)

H. J.G. Zandman, Covenant College, Act, Australia

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The world has developed into a globe with increasingly inter- twined economic interests, with greater economic interdepen- dence than ever before. This has caused a new weapon to step onto the world scene in the 20th and 21st centuries, applied to bring nations to heel. It is aimed at those nations which do not conform to particular, usually ethically perceived standards. “Economic sanctions” is the name of this new weapon.


This article aims to evaluate the wielding of economic sanctions from the perspective of principles based on a Biblical worldview in order to assist Christians in making an informed decision as to what their stance ought to be regarding this phenomenon.


Data show that there is an incremental increase of the use of economic sanctions in world politics. At present, sanctions have uncertain grounding in ethics and little or no standing in inter- national law. Their effectiveness is seriously questioned, their economic cost, especially to the implementer(!), is considerable. The question as to whether economic sanctions should be deplored or embraced at times would be helped with further investigation beyond the scope of this article, notably with re- gard to what has been surmised in the context of the sanctions deployed regarding the apartheid regime in South Africa.


The results of economic sanctions appear to bear out the Biblical principles in that both, actual results plus Biblical prin- ciples, generally send a discouraging message regarding this approach to political conflict.


Biblical Ethics; Economic Sanctions; Effectiveness; Interdependence; Increasing


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