Social Scientist. v 25, no. 288-289 (May-June 1997) p. 54.

Graphics file for this page

Sanctions and the Politics of Dominance, Multilateralism, and Legalism in the International Arena


With the formation of the United Nations in 1945, and the resolution taken by member states to attempt to resolve conflicts between themselves through means other than war, sanctions were bound to assume an important place in the international regime of governance. It was in 1959 that Albert Luthuli, then President of the African National Congress, implored the international community to impose comprehensive sanctions against South Africa and so 'precipitate the end of the hateful system of apartheid' (Davis 1993:16). Three years later, the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of the economic boycott of South Africa, but as Britain, the United States, West Germany, and Japan, which between them accounted for by far the greater portion of South Africa's exports and imports, chose to remain indifferent to resolutions expressing the general will of the world community, sanctions against South Africa did not then come into force. The General Assembly, repeatedly drawing the attention of the Security Council to the threat posed by South Africa to international peace and security, insisted that action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter was 'essential in order to solve the problem of apartheid and that universally applied economic sanctions were the only means of achieving a peaceful solution' (Rajan 1982:115). Under the terms of articles 41-42 of this chapter, only the Security Council has the power to impose mandatory sanctions, and attempts to render South Africa compliant were vetoed by the three Western nations that are permanent members of the Security Council. However, the tide of international opinion could not altogether be resisted, and in 1977 an arms embargo against South Africa was mandated. 1 Moreover, as the pressure to isolate South Africa intensified in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the anti-apartheid movement and disinvestment campaigns gained many adherents in the U.S., the possibility of mandatory

''University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Social Scientist, Vol. 25, Nos. 5-6, May-June 1997

Back to Social Scientist | Back to the DSAL Page

This page was last generated on Wednesday 12 July 2017 at 13:02 by
The URL of this page is: