Economic sanctions, repression capacity, and human rights

Sinjae Kang, Sangmin Lee, Taehee Whang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What is the relationship between economic sanctions and the human rights conditions of target countries? We suggest a two-stage mechanism to explain how sanctions deteriorate the human rights condition in the target country. In the repressive capacity stage, sanctions increase the capacity the target government can use for political repression. We introduce the concepts of political corruption, judicial dependence, and the government's media censorship as political repression tools of target governments. In the violation stage, the increased capacity to repress leads to worsening the target’s human rights condition. We also find that, while human rights sanctions are not likely to increase political repression in the target country, non-human rights sanctions are more likely to increase the political repression therein. Furthermore, such increased capacity for repression, specifically political corruption and judiciary dependence, in the target country adversely affected the human rights condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-197
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Human Rights
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2022 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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