Ideas to Action:

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CGD Policy Blogs

 

Nicolás Maduro speaks at a UN Human Rights Council meeting in 2015.

Why US Oil Sanctions on Venezuela Could Be Too Little, Too Late

The scale of the humanitarian disaster in Venezuela is almost inconceivable. Despite the world’s largest proven oil reserves, the economy barely functions. People struggle just to survive. Store shelves are nearly empty of food, medicine and other necessities. The few goods available are out of reach for most people because of hyperinflation that the International Monetary Fund estimates reached a shocking 1 million percent in 2018. An estimated 3 million Venezuelans have already fled to neighboring countries, and more will likely join them.

Time to Apply a New Sanctions Tool on Venezuela?

The controversy surrounding the recent purchase of Venezuelan government bonds by Goldman Sachs is a great reminder of the role that “preemptive contract sanctions” could play in the struggle against odious regimes like that of Nicolas Maduro. In 2010, CGD released a working group report explaining in detail how this new sanctions tool could work. The Maduro regime in Venezuela could be the perfect candidate.

Norms vs. Laws: What About Syria?

International norms matter. Citizens of the more than 80 nations where polls have been conducted do, think, and act taking into account global realities and norms. Most could be called “global citizens”, not in opposition to, but along with their self-identity as citizens of their own country. 

Try Something New in Syria

The conflict in Syria has dragged on for 26 months, and the international community has seemingly exhausted its options for non-lethal aid and support to the Syrian opposition.  Now, with new allegations that chemical weapons were likely used by the Assad regime, the United States and others may be inching closer to putting boots on the ground.       

Two More Reasons for Preemptive Contract Sanctions in Syria

With relentlessly bad news out of Syria, the search continues for what the world can do to put pressure on Assad’s regime and to lay the groundwork for a future, legitimate Syrian government. The case for preemptive contract sanctions is becoming ever more compelling. Under this approach, the United States, United Kingdom, and other members of the Friends of Syria, would declare that new contracts with the Assad regime are illegitimate and that our courts should not enforce them if a legitimate successor government in Syria repudiates them. This could deter new loans and investments in Syria’s oil or other sectors and send a signal to the Assad regime that the economic pressure will not loosen.

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