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New Study Reports Use of U.S. Unilateral Sanctions on the Rise
Date: 10/27/2006

Washington, D.C.New unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States are on the rise, according to a study by Professor Michael P. Malloy commissioned by USA*Engage and the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC). This new Study of New U.S. Unilateral Sanctions: 1997-2006 reports that although the United States has imposed or threatened significantly more sanctions on countries during this period than in years past, these new sanctions tend to be more targeted than those prior to 1996.

"We are pleased that both Congress and the President have made an effort to take a more targeted approach to sanctions as opposed to imposing broad-based unilateral measures," said NFTC President and USA*Engage Co-Chair Bill Reinsch. "The reality is that sanctions, no matter how well-intentioned, have the potential to add innumerable complications to our foreign policy and the good faith efforts of U.S. businesses trying to comply with and enforce what are often cumbersome rules."

The study is a follow-up to a 2002 sanctions report commissioned by USA*Engage, which showed a decline in the imposition of U.S. unilateral sanctions. The new analysis by Professor Malloy, of University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, catalogs 125 new unilateral sanctions against 47 countries between 2002 and June 2006. During the same period, U.S. unilateral sanctions were lifted in whole or in part from 15 states. The new report also reveals that from 2001 to 2006, the imposition of sanctions against individuals and non-governmental organizations increased, generally as a response to heightened concerns about the threat of terrorism.

In addition, the study shows that during this five-year period, Congress imposed new unilateral sanctions at a rate more frequent than the President, and Congress in particular continues to demonstrate an interest in pursuing broader unilateral sanctions. This summer senior U.S. Senators, backed by the Administration, thwarted such an effort to impose broad sanctions against Iran, as proposed in an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill. These sanctions, if enacted, would have undermined multilateral diplomacy by isolating the United States from our allies around the globe.

"Though we are optimistic about the shift towards a more targeted approach, we will continue to press the Administration and Congress to consider the full impact of future unilateral sanctions proposals," continued Reinsch. "Nobody would doubt the appropriateness of targeted sanctions aimed at freezing terrorist assets or for other important national security reasons. But as the lengthy catalog of sanctions and economic levers in this study shows, there is a patchwork of measures and potential measures already on the books. The U.S. Government needs to consider any new sanctions with great care."

A complete copy of the new study is available at

USA*Engage ( is a coalition of small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. Established in 1997 and organized under the National Foreign Trade Council, USA*Engage leads a campaign to inform policy-makers, opinion-leaders, and the public about the counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions, the importance of exports and overseas investment for American competitiveness and jobs, and the role of American companies in promoting human rights and democracy.


The National Foreign Trade Council ( is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.