Question-marks 3. International sanctions: Might they be working?

On 21 February 2018 our college held its first open lecture of the spring semester under the name of: „International sanctions: Might they be working?”. The roundtable was organized in the frame of „Question marks” – series of lectures which we have been running from the fall semester. Our invited guests were dr. Beata Paragi associate professor, dr. Sandor Gyula Nagy associate professor and Tamas Matura assistant lecturer. The moderator role was filled by the President of our college, Virag Mai Lan Le.
The first, introductory question concerned the currently valid international sanctions and their impacts on the world. Beata Paragi emphasized that sanction policy is not a newly originated method in the Middle East, as when the Arab League was established, the members already initiated a boycott against Israel. According to our expert, the sanctions set up against Iran relating its nuclear program and its double used-up means might be acknowledged successful, however, it is worth emphasising the fact that sanction policy resulted in changes of the linkages in the Middle East.
Sandor Gyula Nagy took Cuba and Venezuela as examples of the American region. The United States ran legal actions against Cuba based on extraterritorial claims, though during the Obama administration these actions were moderated. Regarding Venezuela, it is very difficult to determine the effects of the sanctions as just one year passed since the first sanction has been introduced. However, the living standard has been perceptively dropping since then.
Tamas Matura examined the ineffectiveness of the sanctions set against North-Korea. The sanctions have not dramatically affected the citizens, as the living standard has been stagnating for 70 years. Moreover, the regime might also take advantage of the sanctions. Indeed, the leaders can use them as propaganda against the United States and the international community. Concerning this fact, Beata Paragi felt it crucial to point out that states under sanctions tend to be fairly creative in a way they play these regulations out. She mentioned the Gaza Strip as an instance, where a very sophisticated network of smuggling has been established, furthermore, both wings in Syria can access the international transport supplies.


The last question was focused on the success of the sanctioned states’ reintegration to the international community. Sandor Gyula Nagy could not positively answer in relation with Cuba as it has always found the best partner to cooperate with, in order to survive. Beata Paragi had positive perspectives on Iran’s situation in the Middle East, however, the growing influence of the non-state actors might raise some concerns. From Tamas Matura’s point of view, the sanctions, or in other words penalty provisions, do not intend to help the integration, but they rather have the purpose of punishing the ones who take steps against the international norms.
The lecture gave an overall picture to the university students about all the current sanctions and their impacts in different regions. Overall, we were part of an informative and very instructive lecture. Hopefully, at the following event, we will also have the opportunity to give accurate answers to specific questions in connection with international issues.