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sanction, in law and ethics, any inducement to individuals or groups to follow or refrain from following a particular course of conduct. All societies impose sanctions on their members in order to encourage approved behavior. These sanctions range from formal legal statutes to informal and customary actions taken by the general membership in response to social behavior. A sanction may be either positive, i.e., the promise of reward for desired conduct, or negative, i.e., the threat of penalty for disapproved conduct, but the term is most commonly used in the negative sense. This is particularly true of the sanctions employed in international relations. These are usually economic, taking the form of an embargo or boycott, but may also involve military action.
Under its covenant, the League of Nations was empowered to initiate sanctions against any nation resorting to war in violation of the covenant. Its declaration of an embargo against Paraguay (1934) derived from this power. Economic sanctions were applied against Italy during its invasion of Ethiopia (1935) in the League's most famous, and notably ineffective, use of its power.
The United Nations, under its charter, also has the power to impose sanctions against any nation declared a threat to the peace or an aggressor. Once sanctions are imposed they are binding upon all UN members. However, the requirement that over half of the total membership of the Security Council and all five permanent members agree on the decision to effect a sanction greatly limits the actual use of that power. UN military forces were sent to aid South Korea in 1950, and in the 60s economic sanctions were applied against South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). In the 1990s economic sanctions were imposed on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait, and the Security Council approved the use of force to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Sanctions were also imposed on the former Yugoslavia as a result of the Bosnian civil war and Kosovo crisis.
See R. Arens and H. Lasswell, In Defense of Public Order (1961); R. Segal, ed., Sanctions Against South Africa (1964); M. P. Doxey, Economic Sanctions and International Enforcement (1971) and International Sanctions in Contemporary Perspective (1987); D. Leyton-Brown, ed., The Utility of International Economic Sanctions (1987).
sanctionany means by which a moral code or social norm is enforced, either positively in the form of rewards or negatively by means of punishment. Sanctions may also be formal (e.g. legal penalties) or informal (e.g. ostracism). The operation of social sanctions is an all-pervasive factor in social relations.
(1) A preventive measure enacted by the state and consisting of certain penalties applied against a violator of the law. In establishing a sanction in law and applying it, the Soviet government instills in the members of society an awareness of the need to observe legal precepts, induces the members to maintain a certain conduct, and protects law and order, thereby providing for the proper development of social relations.
There are several types of sanctions, distinguished according to the nature of the measures applied against violators and the. bodies applying them. Criminal law sanctions are applied only by a court; they include deprivation of freedom, exile, banishment, or corrective labor. Administrative law sanctions, such as fines and administrative arrest, are applied by the militia, the organs of people’s control, and state inspectorates. Disciplinary law sanctions are applied by administrations and officials against subordinates in service; they include reproofs and reprimands, demotions, and dismissals. Property sanctions are applied by a court or by arbitration; examples are the compensation by a lawbreaker of the loss caused to another party or the confiscation of property in favor of the injured party, the invalidation of a transaction and the return of the profit obtained to the state, and the payment of a penalty. A property sanction may be designated as an independent measure of punishment, or it may be combined with some other sanction.
(2) That part of a legal norm that contains indications of possible measures to be taken by the state against the violator of the given norm. A sanction is a legal guarantee of the prevention and eradication of violations of the law.
Soviet law is characterized by the tendency to establish prescribed sanctions that precisely indicate the nature and degree of the measure applied against the violator of the law or that indicate the nature and the minimum and maximum degree of the measure. Discretionary sanctions, that is, sanctions allowing officials at their own discretion to select the measure to be applied and to determine arbitrarily its degree, are not known in Soviet law (in contrast to bourgeois law).
(3) An act by a procurator permitting compulsory measures against a person suspected of a crime, for example, detention, lien, search, or the seizure of postal and telegraph correspondence.
A. F. SHCHEBANOV
(4) In international law, measures applied against a state in the event it violates international obligations or the standards of international law (seeDELICT). One of the fundamentals of modern international law is the principle of the responsibility of a state, according to which a state is obliged to provide compensation for losses caused by its illegal actions; appropriate sanctions can be applied against the state for such actions. The legal consequences that ensue in the event a state commits a crime or a simple international violation of law are not the same. With a violation of law causing damage to any state or group of states, the violator state is obliged to restore the violated rights or provide corresponding satisfaction. In the event of material loss, the restoration of the violated rights is carried out chiefly in the form of reparations or restitution.
In the event of international crimes that violate the fundamental principles of international relations and cause harm to the entire international community of states, sanctions must be applied immediately against the violator state. These sanctions may include as the most extreme measure military force (the compulsory measures under the UN Charter) and are applied only upon a decision of the UN Security Council in the event of a threat to peace, a violation of peace, or an act of aggression. The compulsory measures under the UN Charter are primarily political measures that the Security Council can apply at its discretion to maintain and restore international peace and security. They assume the character of a sanction only if the Security Council rules that an act of aggression has been committed or if it specially indicates which party is guilty of a violation of peace or a threat to peace.
Along with the compulsory measures, the UN Charter contains a number of provisions that should be viewed as sanctions. They include the supension of rights and privileges of UN members in the event of the application of preventive or other compulsory measures against them and the expulsion of the state from UN membership in the event of a systematic violation of the charter’s principles.
V. I. MENZHINSKII