The political economy of energy sanctions: Insights from a global outlook 1938–2017

Itay Fischhendler, Lior Herman, Nir Maoz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


This study—addressing the absence of a specific and focused analysis of energy sanctions in current literature—provides a longitudinal and quantitative study of economic energy sanctions based on a global perspective. We unpack the design of economic energy sanctions by distinguishing their goals, their measures, and how they are imposed and evolve over time, with the aim of better understanding their effectiveness, cost, and implementability. Drawing on a dataset of officially reported sanctions from 1938 onwards, we find that energy sanctions were particularly frequent between 1973 and 2002, with key senders being the US, Russia, and the UN, each using different sanction regimes, goals, and measures. Analysis reveals that energy sanctions target the distribution segment of the supply chain, and are paired with non-energy sanctions. Further, when variations and changes take place in the design of sanctions, they tend to trigger counter-sanctions. Thus, a possible explanation for senders’ preference not to change or intensify sanctions is the high transaction cost associated with each change in the sanction design. We conclude that transformations and changes taking place in the global energy market are likely to influence the design of future sanctions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)62-71
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
StatePublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Economic sanctions
  • Energy
  • Energy politics
  • Energy trade
  • Foreign policy
  • Sanctions


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