Safeguarding the Human Rights of Civilian Population in an Environment of Economic Sanctions: A Study on the Boundaries of International Law

Tayebi, Leila
Waring, Marilyn
Graham Davies, Sharyn
Item type
Degree name
Doctor of Philosophy
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Auckland University of Technology

Iran has been the target of the United Nations Security Council economic sanctions, imposed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, from 2006 to 2015. This research aims at understanding and addressing the impacts of the Security Council sanctions on the civilian populations of Iran during that period. The impacts of the coercive measures of the Security Council have been analysed through constructivist and rights-based approaches to development. The arguments of the thesis relate to fundamental human rights, especially the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. The focus of the study highlights the concepts of justice and dignity of the human person at the core of international law.

This research conducts an impact evaluation on the environment of economic sanctions in Iran. It has been established that the consequences of economic sanctions, even though smart or targeted, are felt by civilian populations, especially by the most vulnerable groups in society, because their access to resources are imperilled due to trade barriers, deprivation, and economic imbalance.

The fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the UN have also been reviewed in an evaluative framework. The findings demonstrate that, rather than the ‘impacts’ of sanctions, their ‘implementation’ is the focus of the Security Council monitoring mechanism. The research concludes that the accountability of the Security Council towards the impacts of its actions on the human rights of vulnerable populations is inadequate. The Security Council actions or inactions may be incompatible with the development goals of the UN, and are not subject to judicial review.

The research presents a proposition for enhancing the respect for fundamental human rights in the decisions of the Security Council, and for establishing a judicial mechanism for reviewing the Security Council measures that breach the fundamental rights of human persons.

International Law , Economic Sanctions , Human Rights , United Nations , Boundaries of International Law , United Nations Economic Sanctions , United Nations Security Council , Security Council , UNSC
Publisher's version
Rights statement