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Georgetown Law’s IIEL Explores North Korea, Russia, Venezuela Sanctions

September 13, 2017 —

On the day the United Nations Security Council approved new international sanctions on North Korea to halt its nuclear program — on the 16th anniversary of 9/11 —  Georgetown Law’s Institute of International Economic Law (IIEL) hosted a panel discussion with a former CIA deputy director on sanctions against North Korea, Russia and Venezuela. 

Georgetown Law Professor Chris Brummer, faculty director of IIEL, interviewed David Cohen on topics including the current state of international sanctions; how the Trump Administration differs from the previous administration; and the strategy surrounding sanctions. 

“Here in Washington, we are on the front lines of managing and navigating issues that have global import,” Brummer said. 

Perhaps surprisingly to some, sanctions are not simply for punishment or a policy unto themselves, Cohen said; rather, they should be used as a tool to achieve broader foreign policy objectives. 

“You apply sanctions principally to try to do one of two things: either…to try to persuade who is on the receiving end of the sanctions to change, whether it’s policy or conduct, and the other objective is to disrupt and disable,” Cohen said, citing counterterrorist financing sanctions applied to Iran. 

North Korea has been subject to sanctions for many years. Though some would call the sanctions ineffective, what is needed is a different approach.

“It is not the case that North Korea is sanctioned out,” Cohen said, noting that the North Korean economy is not self-sufficient and the U.S. needs to work diplomatically with China.  

A Work in Progress

And Russia? A report by the intelligence community to then-President Obama in January “concludes with high confidence that Putin himself set out to interfere in our elections…,” Cohen said. “The number one objective was to undermine our democracy, [which] is still the Russians’ objective. They are still at it, they are at it here, they are at it overseas…it is a hugely important national security issue in this country.” 

Steps taken by Congress are “a work in progress.” “If we blithely think we can ignore this,” Cohen added, “it’s going to get worse.” 

Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor praised IIEL as well as the event’s cosponsor, the Atlantic Council. 

“Georgetown, IIEL and the Atlantic Council share a common goal of promoting constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs,” Treanor said. “In today’s increasingly complex world, it’s imperative that we do all we can to promote just that.”

The event may be viewed on C-SPAN.  

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