19 Oct 2017, 12:30 - 13:30, Anna Nussbaum Auditorium, WTI, Bern

How many hands to make sactions work?

Brown Bag Seminar by Gerald Schneider, Professor of International Politics and Executive Editor of “European Union Politics”


One of the core disputes in the literature on economic statecraft addresses the conditions under which multilateral sanctions might be more successful than unilateral ones. Previous contributions imply that low decision making complexity, limited opportunities for sanction busting and the support of international organization can render multi-sender efforts more effective than single country initiatives. We evaluate these claims and introduce a bargaining argument that considers the higher selection threshold of multilateralism and the conflicting economic interests of multiple principals as countervailing forces. Our game-theoretic model implies that extant assessments of economic statecraft do not sufficiently differentiate between the varying abilities of multilateral and unilateral senders in credibly threatening and in carrying out sanctions. The formal analysis suggests that the success of sanctions grows with the level of economic interdependence between the senders and the target, but decreases the more varied the economic links of the multilateral senders with the sanctioned state are. We test these propositions for the period between 1989 and 2015 with a dataset that integrates and updates the Threats and Imposition of Economic Sanctions and the GIGA democratic sanctions datasets. We compare the imposition and effectiveness of the sanctions by the US and the EU. The EU has become an increasingly important sender of coercive measures. The empirical evidence demonstrates that multilateral sanctions enjoy more credibility through the aggregation of economic interests and the lowest common denominator logic that leads teams of senders to pick cases which they perceive to have a higher chance of ending successfully. 

Biography of the Speaker

Gerald Schneider, born in 1962 in Zürich, is Professor of International Politics and Executive Editor of “European Union Politics”. His main areas of research are European Union decision making, the causes and consequences of armed violence, the international political economy of financial markets, bargaining theory and conflict management.  Schneider defended his doctoral thesis at the University of Zürich in 1991, worked as post-doc at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) for two years and was an assistant professor at the Institut universitaire de hautes études internationales in Geneva. Before joining the faculty at Konstanz in 1997, he was a Professor of Political Science at the University of Stuttgart, Program Director at the University of Berne and visiting professor at Konstanz.