Irrelevant Or Malevolent? UN Arms Embargoes In Civil Wars

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Publication Date


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Review Of International Studies


UN arms embargoes have been increasingly applied to civil wars, yet these embargoes have tended to be either irrelevant or malevolent in their effects. Arms embargoes are rarely enforced in a civil war; they undermine the credibility of the UN; they are unlikely to change the political positions of civil war participants; they criminalise target societies; and they benefit arms suppliers willing to break the rules. This article argues for the reform of partial arms embargoes, which target select groups in a civil war. It also argues for the restriction in use of impartial embargoes, which apply to all sides in a civil war. Enforcing impartial embargoes can actually make the situation worse, by shaping the course of the civil war in unpredictable and immoral ways.

Published By

Cambridge University Press