Scroll to top

“Tools of Trade”: Resource Paper Explains U.S. Sanctions Regimes and New Human Rights Accountability Strategies

No comments

“Tools of Trade”: Resource Paper Explains U.S. Sanctions Regimes and New Human Rights Accountability Strategies

Posted by Enough Team on June 7, 2018

New resource paper empowers human rights practitioners and advocates to stay engaged through lifecycle of powerful but often underutilized sanctions regimes

Washington, DC – The Enough Project and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) published a resource paper today for human rights advocates and practitioners to understand the fundamental principles of U.S. sanctions and evaluate opportunities to engage in sanctions-specific advocacy strategies.

The paper, “Tools of Trade: U.S. Sanctions Regimes and Human Rights Accountability Strategies,” highlights that human rights advocates and practitioners, both within and outside the U.S. government, are often reluctant to call for sanctions in part due to their potential unintended consequences, particularly those created by comprehensive embargoes, which prohibit U.S. persons from almost all transactions with a targeted country’s persons and entities. When crafted and implemented strategically, however, sanctions can be an effective tool to respond to a wide range of human rights issues. The complex nature of many sanctions regimes also creates a barrier for those who are not experts in sanctions law and practice, and the paper is meant to help in overcoming those barriers of understanding and engagement.

Brad Brooks-Rubin, Managing Director at the Enough Project and The Sentry, said: “The role and efficacy of economic sanctions and broader tools of financial pressure have evolved dramatically in recent years. Yet, too often, human rights advocates lack the understanding of how these tools work, which government agencies are involved, and where they have been most effective. This report provides a guide for advocates and others, so we can move past older conceptions of these tools and ensure the most effective pressures can be deployed not only against threats like proliferation and organized crime but to advance human rights and peace.”

Sophia Lin, Legal and Policy Coordinator at the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, said: “Seeking accountability for victims of human rights abuses committed by powerful actors such as multinational corporations often feels like a battle between David and Goliath. And yet, economic sanctions can be a powerful and effective tool to stop these abuses in places where accountability strategies are otherwise not available. With this report, we hope to equip the human rights community with another tool to tackle some of the most serious human rights challenges.”

The paper explains the legal framework of U.S. sanctions and the roles different agencies play in administering sanctions programs. It also discusses specific sanctions programs or mechanisms that can be leveraged to promote human rights abroad. These include:

  1. imposing targeted designations through existing country programs;
  2. targeting international actors responsible for corruption or serious human rights violations using Executive Order 13818, “Global Magnitsky” program;
  3. leveraging sectoral and secondary sanctions for human rights objectives; and
  4. using sanctions authorities to increase transparency requirements for businesses engaged in areas with specific human rights risks.

Read the full paper:

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact:  Greg Hittelman at +1 310-717-0606, [email protected] or Sophia Lin at +1 202-296-0147, [email protected].


The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) is a civil society organization that believes in the need for an economy that respects the rights of all people, not just powerful corporations. We harness the collective power of progressive organizations to push governments to create and enforce rules over corporations that promote human rights and reduce inequality. For more information, please visit


The Enough Project supports peace and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. Together with its investigative initiative The Sentry, Enough counters armed groups, violent kleptocratic regimes, and their commercial partners that are sustained and enriched by corruption, criminal activity, and the trafficking of natural resources. By helping to create consequences for the major perpetrators and facilitators of atrocities and corruption, Enough seeks to build leverage in support of peace and good governance. Enough conducts research in conflict zones, engages governments and the private sector on potential policy solutions, and mobilizes public campaigns focused on peace, human rights, and breaking the links between war and illicit profit. Learn more – and join us – at