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Embargo in the international relations

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The concept of embargo draws its origin from an American legislation adopted in 1807 under the name ?The Embargo Act 1807? which persuaded France and England of the value of a neutral trade. It prohibited the circulation of the boats of English and French goods in all the American ports. According to the author, an embargo can take the economic, strategic, political or even sporting dimension. This paper will limit itself mainly to the concepts of economic and strategic embargoes. The economic embargo can be defined as being an action taken by a country or the international community to prohibit ?the sale or the forwarding of products to a country, as well as the purchase of its exports? in order to condemn and/or influence the actions and the policy of its government (Lachaux, Lacorne and Lamoureux, 1987). This type of embargo can target the whole of the economy of the country or certain products. For its part, the strategic embargo issued against a given country does not target its economy in general, but rather its military capacity (Lachaux, Lacorne and Lamoureux, 1987). This type of embargo thus aims at ?controlling and, possibly, at prohibiting exports towards the country by targeting goods, services and technologies likely to bring a direct taxation and significance to its military potential?. The case of the recent provisions taken by UNO against Iran, in order to discourage from it obtaining the atomic weapon is illustrated in this paper as an example.

Historically, there have been many unilateral decisions taken in this direction, mainly by the USA (eg, the embargo against Cuba (1961),in response to the 1959 Cuban revolution and in order to destabilize the government of Fidel Castro). The dilemma lies in the legality and legitimacy of such an embargo. The normative content of the embargo can be considered a clear violation of the spirit of the UN Charter and the basis of international law: it is contrary to the principle of national sovereignty, that of non-intervention in the internal choices of a foreign state and opposes the rights of the people to self-determination and development.

Tags: Embargo; International relations; UNO embargo against Iran; US embargo against Cuba

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