Enforcing U.S. Foreign Policy by Imposing Unilateral Secondary Sanctions,digitalcommons.law.uw.edu

Patrick C. R. Terry, University of Public Administration Kehl, Germany

Following the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the agreement between the five permanent UN Security Council members, the European
Union, Germany, and Iran, that intends to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, the United States has re-imposed and tightened its sanctions against Iran. The United States’ renunciation of the agreement, despite the agreement’s UN Security Council approval and verified Iranian compliance, arguably violated international law.
Nevertheless, the United States is attempting to compel the other state parties (and others) to follow its policy on Iran by threatening those states’ companies and business executives with economic or even criminal sanctions to force them to cut commercial ties with Iran. […]

U.S. sanctions laws and their consequences for third states are incompatible with public international law. By assuming jurisdiction and enforcing its domestic legislation in cases with no relevant connection to the United States, the United States violates customary international law on jurisdiction and other States’ sovereignty, which includes the right to govern to the exclusion of other States. By intimidating foreign businesses and citizens so that they do not enter into commercial transactions that may violate the United States’ sanctions laws, the United States imposes its foreign policy on other States. The United States is thus unlawfully intervening in matters, which, as the ICJ pointed out, every state is entitled to “decide freely.” 200 By utilizing its economic strength in order to impose its will on third states, the United States also disregards the principle of sovereign equality. As one observer commented more than 20 years ago, United States’ sanctions policy “does little to reassure those who think that many members of the United States’ Congress do not understand international law at all, but see the world as one great federal state with the United States filling the role of the federal government.” 201 This corresponds with Austen Parrish’s conclusion that the United States views “the use of national law, applied extraterritorially, as a way to displace international law.” Läs artikel