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The harm that sanctions do to the vulnerable

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Western countries' foreign policy tool of choice has a dramatic negative effect on living standards

Article  •
In the World  •

By Francisco Rodríguez, Rice Family Professor of the Practice of International and Public Affairs

When a massive earthquake killed tens of thousands of people in Turkey and Syria in February, activists around the world scrambled to raise money for relief efforts through platforms such as GoFundMe. They immediately hit a roadblock: US sanctions. To comply with regulations, GoFundMe told users, it would not only block fundraising efforts mentioning Syria earthquake relief, but would suspend the accounts of those making requests.

Facing public outcry, the Biden administration issued a special, limited-time licence exempting Syria earthquake relief transactions, after which GoFundMe allowed the campaigns to go ahead. Yet while this carve-out may have eased some difficulties in bringing aid to victims, no such exceptions exist for other countries under US sanctions.

This article was published on May 4, 2023 in The Financial Times. To continue reading, please click here.