Julia Grauvogel / Christian von Soest

Claims to Legitimacy Matter: Why Sanctions Fail to Instigate Democratization in Authoritarian Regimes

GIGA Working Paper, No. 235, October 2013

Abstract
International sanctions have been one of the most commonly used tools of Western foreign policy in the post‐Cold War era to instigate democratization globally. However, despite long‐term external pressure through sanctions imposed by the European Union, the United States and/or the United Nations, nondemocratic rule in cases such as Belarus, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea and Syria has proven to be extremely persistent. In this paper, we analyze a new global dataset on sanctions from 1990 to 2011 and assess which international and domestic factors account for the persistence of nondemocratic rule in targeted regimes. The results of a fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) of 120 episodes of sanctions provide new insights for the research on both sanctions and authoritarian regimes. Most significantly, sanctions strengthen nondemocratic rule if the regime manages to incorporate their existence into its legitimation strategy. Such a "rally‐round‐the‐flag" effect occurs most often in cases where comprehensive sanctions targeting the entire Population are imposed on regimes that enjoy strong claims to legitimacy and have only limited linkages to the sanction sender.

Related Research at the GIGA

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GIGA Authors

Dr. Julia Grauvogel

Senior Research Fellow
Speaker Research Team

Dr. Julia Grauvogel is a research fellow at the GIGA Institute of African Affairs. She is a member of the Leibniz Association–funded research network “International Diffusion and Cooperation of Authoritarian Regimes” (IDCAR) and spokesperson for the Research Team “Interventions and Security” within GIGA Research Programme 2, “Peace and Security.” Her work focuses on authoritarianism, legitimations strategies of non-democratic regimes, and international sanctions.

Dr. Christian von Soest is a lead research fellow at the IAA and head of Research Programme 2 “Peace and Security.” His work focuses on international sanctions, the persistence and change of authoritarian regimes, foreign policy, and limited statehood, as well as on corruption and its effects on political regimes.

Recent Publications by the Authors

Julia Grauvogel / Hana Attia

How do international sanctions end? Towards a process-oriented, relational, and signaling perspective

Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen, forthcoming

Marcus Tannenberg / Michael Bernhard / Johannes Gerschewski / Anna Lührmann / Christian Von Soest

Regime Legitimation Strategies (RLS), 1900 to 2018

V-Dem Working Papers, 2019, 86

Tabea Lakemann / Christian von Soest

Ten Things to Watch in Africa in 2019

GIGA Focus Africa, 01/2019

Julia Grauvogel / Christian von Soest

Identity, procedures and performance: how authoritarian regimes legitimize their rule

in: Alexander Dukalskis / Johannes Gerschewski (eds.), Justifying Dictatorship: Studies in Autocratic Legitimation, Routledge, 2018, 37-55