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United Nations Structure in Global Governance: A Case of Sanctions Against Islamic Republic of Iran From 2006 – 2015

United Nations Structure in Global Governance: A Case of Sanctions Against Islamic Republic of Iran From 2006 – 2015

Abdullahi Abdulkarim*, Hakeem Onapajo

Political Science and International Relations, Nile University of Nigeria, Abuja, Nigeria

*Corresponding Author


Received: 04 March 2023; Revised: 07 April 2023; Accepted: 12 April 2023; Published: 30 May 2023


This paper is titled ‘United Nations Structure of global governance: A Case of Sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran from 2006 to 2015.’ The paper aims at studying the structure of the United Nations sanctions imposed with the name of promoting global governance among member states, and other influential actors of international relations. To police the member nations, advance global peace and security, and avert the loss of lives and property, the international system created the United Nations as an organization. In doing so, the UN has the authority to use a variety of tools, including coercive and non-coercive methods. The organization has been given the authority to impose sanctions on any state or state that poses a military or non-military danger to global stability. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which was signed on July 1st, 1968, forbade the development of Weapons of Mass Destruction by its signatories to meet the aims of promoting and defending global peace and security. Using a qualitative approach to the study of political science, this paper adopted the use of in-depth interviews as an instrument of data gathering, where the respondents were selected using the purposive sampling technique; where the respondents are selected considering the nature of the research problem under study. The paper adopted a theory of liberal institutionalism, which states that emphasis should be given to international institutions and global governance as a way of promoting peace in the international system. The paper concludes that international sanctions are being imposed not for any individual benefits, but for the maintenance of international peace and security, except if there are elements of suspicion in that sanctions, then, it can be debated. Iran as a country, displaying an act condemned by the international convention of putting a threat to international peace and security cannot be recognized and accepted by the United Nations, the entire system itself.

Keywords: United Nations, Global Governance, Sanctions, Iran, Internal Atomic Energy Agency, supranationalism.


The existence of the United Nations in the international system is a way of structuring and promoting global governance. The only way states as actors in international relations and other actors can avoid conflicts, and avoid the anarchic nature of the international system is through global governance provided by the United Nations. The United Nations (UN) officially contains 193 States. As a multinational intergovernmental Organization (IGO), it acts as a forum for mutual problem-solving between nations, and in recent decades has focused on additional political, social, economic, and technical problems confronting humankind. Over time, its central priority with the promotion of peace and security has been complemented by an ever-expanding economic and social framework. The UN has a rather wide and comprehensive scope, defined by a structured structure with a variety of specialist departments, organized across six major bodies, including the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the Secretariat. The Security Council is responsible for protecting global peace and protection (Ariye, 2014, p. 24).

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which is the UN’s important sub-body, is in charge of making decisions and enforcing sanctions against nations that pose a danger to international peace and stability. Five (5) of the UNSC’s fifteen members hold permanent seats, whereas the remaining ten members’ terms as council members are only two years long. The UNSC has fifteen members in total. Because a state has disobeyed or failed to comply with the norms established by the United Nations to maintain international order, the organization may also employ coercion diplomatically, including by imposing penalties on that state (Cronin & Hurd, 2008).

 The security council will then suggest using sanctions on the targeted party or parties after that. Sanctions imposed by the council may include the severance of diplomatic ties as well as the full or partial suspension of commercial ties and any kind of communication, including postal, telegraphic, radio, train, sea, and air travel. The foundation for UN sanctions under international treaties is outlined in Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter (Action concerning Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression), and more specifically in Article 41, which addresses non-military compliance procedures. Even while Article 41 spells out specific punishments to be implemented, it makes it clear that the list is not all-inclusive while also not using the word “sanctions” expressly. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia are two examples of multilateral treaties that the Council has utilized Article 41 to enact in addition to sanctions or compensation funding. The drafters of the UN Charter were cautious about exploiting the alleged shortcomings of the League of Nations. Article 41 of the United Nations Charter, which is Article 16’s counterpart, addresses three of the League of Nations Covenant’s problems: On the other hand, Article 41 simply specifies the kind of measures that may be enforced and leaves the Council with sole authority to make decisions; it makes no mention of the conditions under which penalties may be applied. Article 16 outlined in detail how sanctions would be implemented (i.e., substantive political and economic penalties), under what circumstances they would be imposed (i.e., interstate conflict), and under what circumstances they would not be imposed (Security Council Report, 2013).

The political and security challenges thrown up by the sovereign states globally, especially witnessing the global crises of World Wars I and II by sovereign states brought up capacity problems. Witnessing the damage of properties and loss of lives because of a weapon of mass destruction used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, any unclear intention by an actor in international relations cannot be tolerated by the UN anymore. Sanctions are used by the UNSC to regulate the behaviour of states.  Iran’s nuclear programme has increasingly raised concerns over regional security in the Middle East, following its geopolitical interests in the region. Though, The November 2007 National Intelligence Report observed that Iran had “continued its nuclear weapons program” in 2003, however, the assessments and various comments by the intelligence community also observed that Tehran remained open to the “alternative” to building nuclear weapons. At a briefing on 3 October 2013, Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman clarified that Iran would require as much as one year to develop a nuclear bomb if the government had decided to do so. Tehran may have taken two or three months of this time to manufacture sufficiently HEU-grade components for a nuclear weapon. Iran’s introduction of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) prolonged this timeframe to one year, according to Testimony to Congress by then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on 9 February 2016 (Kerr & Katzman, 2018).

With regards to the UN sanctions against Iran to promote global governance, it started in the year 2006, when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recommended the imposition of sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear programme. The sanctions were a response to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) assessment that said Iran had not made its nuclear program sufficiently known. The UNSC considered Iran’s nuclear program to be potentially harmful and to be in violation of the laws governing the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT). Sanctions were imposed as a result of Iran’s actions regarding its nuclear program, which because of its ambiguous intentions to further the program, caused alarm among governments in international relations. Although the issue of sanctions against Iran has been a problem since the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979, which toppled the Shah of Iran, a close ally of the United States, sanctions have played a significant role in U.S.-Iran relations, according to congressional research service updated (April 6th, 2021). The United States placed sanctions on Iran in the 1980s and 1990s to persuade it to cease funding terrorism and to restrict its capacity to have a strategic impact in the Middle East more broadly. After the mid-2000s, the United States and the rest of the world focused heavily on attempting to convince Iran to restrict its nuclear program. The sanctions have simultaneously addressed all of the risks that Iran continues to pose. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) first suggested sanctions on Iran to the UNSC in 2006, which led to the beginning of such sanctions. As a result, Iran is now facing tough sanctions. Sanctions were imposed on Iran to address the issue and demand compliance (Carish & Rickard-Martin, 2014).

This paper examines the structure of the United Nations’ global governance, by studying the sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Adopting a qualitative approach to the study of political science, the paper adopted an instrument of the in-depth interview as an instrument of data collection. The respondents were selected using a technique of purposive sampling, which other scholars call it judgmental sampling technique. The respondents were selected considering the nature of the research problem, which requires experience, intellectuals, and experts to respond to the research questions. The paper is categorized into two categories. The first category defined the paper’s introduction, global governance and its tools for promoting it, then a theoretical review of the paper. The second category defined the sanctions as a tool for promoting global governance by United Nations, the case of sanctions against Iran, then the conclusion of the paper.

Global Governance

Things in the world exist before they are even named. It is also the same as global governance. the world even before World War I was being governed, though was governed by a thin network of private international organizations and the public by linking core industrial countries comprising mainly European countries that succeeded in conquering the entire world. States integrating themselves into a relationship and global market for them to gain more interests and welfare raised the need for principles and rules to guide them into such relations. Interdependence between state actors today has reached an unprecedented stage, so, states’ national policy is being influenced by external situations and vice visa. More and many domestic policies do emerge with external impacts, so, it is difficult now for the national government to overlook the external impacts and background when dealing with political and socio-economic issues. There is a need for corporations and coordination internationally for them to solve their problems with an external source.

In their writing, Mingqi and Yikang (2001) stated that the rise of globalization brought various challenges with many global-scaled issues, which seem to be very difficult to be tackled by individual countries. The global issues are not only faced by the countries individually but by many and the globe as a whole. These issues brought by the rise of globalization are of three categories; the first is the political and security issues such as; widespread international terrorism, and nuclear weapons. The second issue is economic issues which include; poverty relief and financial crisis, energy shortage, and lastly, the third issue is environmental issues. This issue includes global warming and pollution. All these issues mentioned cannot be addressed and tackled by individual states, it needs international efforts to deal with. The rise of global issues in all countries raised the urgent need for global action.

With the great war, and inter-war depression particularly the moment of the globalization of industrial capitalist ideology, the phase of global governance was first heard through the global manufacturing economy that emerged outside the confines of existing international regulations (Weiss & Wilkinson, 2014). Global governance cannot be single-picked to develop efficiently with only one body or regime. The procedures currently used by many international organizations indicated that global governance has to do with institutions and rules that deal with different issues (Colomer, 2014). Spruyt (1994) cited in Koenig-Ardibugi (2003), stated that state actors operate in an institutional form, and emerged as the winner of the competition of organizing political authority, first starting in Europe and later in most of the world countries, prevailing over institutional alternatives such as; city-states, tribe, theocracy, empire, and feudalism. To Spruyt, states became the main providers of governance services to societies because they succeeded in securing legitimate use of conflict and violence in the most social spheres of the world. The expansion of state activities in international relations which include; contentment of violence among citizens, defense against external threats, and protection from impersonal threats make states the main providers of global governance (Koenig-Ardibugi, 2003).

Scholars of international relations give different opinions on what global governance is. For example, Koenig-Ardibugi, 2014 believes that global governance emerged as a term of a political program to reform international relationships such as international business policies, negotiation and implementation of public health policies, gender policies, peacekeeping, weapons ban, and regulation of global trade among others. Finkelstein (1995) described global governance as:

Governance should be considered to cover the overlapping categories of functions performed internationally, among them: information creation and exchange; formulation and promulgation of principles and promotion of consensual knowledge affecting the general international order, regional orders, particular issues on the international agenda, and efforts to influence the domestic rules and behaviour of states; good offices, conciliation, mediation, and compulsory resolution of disputes; regime formation, tending and execution; adoption of rules, codes, and regulations; allocation of material and program resources; provision of technical assistance and development programs; relief, humanitarian, emergency, and disaster activities; and maintenance of peace and order.

To Rosenau, global governance is a system of rule that exists at the level of all human activities ranging from family up to international organizations in which the pursuit of interests by actors through the exercise of power and control has transnational repercussions (Weiss, 2000). In his writing, Orback (2020) defined global governance as the coming together of diverse actors to coordinate collective good of action at the level of the globe. Global governance is designed to provide public good particularly justice, a mediation system for conflict, peace, and security, a functioning market, and standards for the business environment, this is because the global organization is affected generally through the range of regional organizations such as; ECOWAS, EU, ASEAN, NATO, world economic forum, G7, G20 among others. Billy (1995), in his opinion, global governance has to do with diverse ways in which public and private institutions and individuals manage their common affairs. It is a process that continues always, where different interests and conflicts may be accommodated and possible actions may be taken. This may include; formal institutions and administrations authorized to implement and enforce compliance as well as informal arrangements that individuals and institutions had either agreed to or recognized to be their interests. At the international level, governance had been viewed as only intergovernmental relations, but today, it has been understood and accommodated by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), movements, multinational corporations, citizens, and the global capital market because of their role (Nowrot, 2004).

Dingwerth and Pattgerge (2006), gave more emphasis on governance by defining the concept into two different categories. The first is global governance as an observable phenomenon. This includes the usual analysis of verities of phenomena which include; civil society, global social movements, the activities of international organizations, private organizations, the changing capacity of states’ regulations, transnational rule-making, public-private networks, and other forms of private and public authorities that are viewed through the assumptions and implications of the term governance within the discipline of international relations. The second definition is global governance as a political programme. This definition has to do with addressing problems that are analytically linked to the process of economic globalization and a resulting loss of national authority. Wilkinson and Weiss (2014) gave the analysis and role of global governance under two periods of time; global governance before the great war, and global governance during the United Nations era.

Global governance before the great war: During this time, international unions were linked together, and communication and transportation systems were established. They established industrial standards and imperial rules that governed intellectual property. In 1875, the International Bureau of Weight was established, and in 1893, the international bureau for the Protection of intellectual properties was also established. The inter-imperial monetary system was administered which maintained rules of trade. These types of protection perform the functions of global governance. in governing financial crises then, the Latin Monetary Union was established in 1865, and Brussels Tariff Union was established in 1890. Other institutions like; the Bank of England and the British government played role in the aspect of early global governance. During this time, the emphasis was placed so much on production and business environment because of the industrial structures of the states. So, international organizations supported large groups within the core industries of the inter-imperial world that were exposed to harm that would be caused by the growing trade and industrial products that were posted by other international public unions. The Labour Associations then, which began as a cooperative project and citizens concerned was typical global governance in the inter-imperial world. Some of these were conducted by international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Global governance was so much emphasized in trade and production protection before the great war (Wilkinson & Weiss 2014).

The United Nations Era: This era started after the wound down of World War I & II. Global governance then expanded beyond trade and production consideration. As World War I wound down, Roosevelt committed his administration to creating the foundation for world peace on which system of global regulations could ensure prosperity that could increase the greatest number of useful goods with the least waste. Roosevelt’s administration chooses that instrument for achieving a peaceful world at the end of the wartime alliance which he named it “United Nations”, which was later recognized as the peace-maintaining instrument of the security council, supplemented by General Assembly membership to govern the world. Security Council was a substantial establishment in global governance, and this made scholars of international relations say that the UN system has contributed more to peace-making globally, through peacebuilding and peacekeeping, through the work of the UN development system. Like public international unions before world war I, the United Nations is playing the same role of global governance, and rules governing intellectual property through a complex system of standard-setting bodies that are under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), established in 1946 (Wilkinson & Weiss 2014).

 Tools of Promoting Global Governance

The acceptance of a democratic system of government globally: This involves a system of rules stipulating the establishment of mechanisms for international institutions to take the responsibilities in a corporation to achieve social goals and resolve potential conflicts. This can be achieved through articulating five basic principles of good governance; accountability, openness, participation, coherence, and effectiveness. Good governance can be achieved when these principles only uphold technical aspects of rule of law, and in doing that, democracy has to be accepted globally as a world governing system, this is because it promotes room for the rule of law to allow the above-mentioned principles (Ling, 2013). Increased interdependence and globalization, global peace, and security are being held to an extent on the ability and political will of institutions and governments to pursue policies that are geared for rule of law globally, democratic governance, human rights protection, promoting sustainable development, eradicating poverty and reducing the inequalities that lie in the root of challenges facing the world (Ling, 2013). The promotion of democracy as a world-accepted governing system has been supported by international organizations to maintain governance. For example, European Union, its primary treaties it is strategic goal is to maintain its values, and rule of law, support and consolidate democracy, protection of human rights, and international law principles through external actions.

Multilateralism: Multilateralism is also among the mechanisms that promote global governance. This can include the practice of coordinating national policies of two or more states coming together through arrangements or utilizing international institutions. These institutions deal with peace and security, basically the United Nations and its organs of maintaining peace (security council) as well as those institutions managing financial and economic governance (Langenhove, 2016). Langenhove is of the view that though states are sovereign, they do not possess high authority in dealing with international disputes individually, as such, states’ space at the governance level is limited, and this had prompted scholars of international relations to say that states need a supra-national level to deal with international disputes. Even though states fight one another, they still need to work together, and in doing this, there is a need for an international organization to perform that task. Today, there exists an accepted international system by the majority of states, and this system is often called a multilateral system. Lang while criticizing that the definition of multilateralism given by Ruggie had neglected a quality dimension of multilateralism defined multilateralism as the “establishment of conditions under which respects for obligations and justice arising from conventions and other sources of international law can be maintained.” Multilateralism was initially established for state coordination and corporation to maintain peace and security, and to replace anarchy. Multilateralism serves as a tool for achieving global governance through international organizations, for example, the role of ECOWAS in recent Mali’s political crisis, where the organization tries to restore the rule of law by trying to reinstall democracy in the country.

Supranationalism: While discussing multilateralism, we have seen how states come together in international relations to settle common disputes. Unlike multilateralism, supra nationalism undermines the notion of states’ independence since the time Westphalia system. Supranationalism serves as a tool for carrying global governance globally, this is because it describes a process by that international institutions established procedures that contradict the principles of non-intervention. Looking at that, which of the international institutions is then supranational in status? Scholars of international relations defined it as “organizations that extend beyond the borders of three or more states that have the purpose of promoting political, economic, and cultural unity between members. Global governance can be achieved through the establishment of supranational institutions. For example, the establishment of the United Nations has moved states away from becoming anarchy in structure. When state actors join such supranational organizations, some international norms and rules are established by the organizations, which create obligations by the domestic governments to take measures regarding any issue that will cause social disorder even when they have contrary opinions and interests regarding that. International organizations have the authority to make binding decisions on a domestic matter of a state regarding domestic jurisdiction, even if those decisions of the international organizations are contrary to the state’s policies and preferences (Zurn, 2013). Supranational organizations help in providing good governance and making sure governance is being maintained internally and externally. For example, United Nations govern peace and security globally and protects the territory of independent states through laws of non-intervention among others. World Trade Organization creates policies to monitor global trade, the World Bank monitors financial crises across the globe. All these organizations perfume their functions to govern the world without violence and conflict.

Multinational Corporations (MNCs): These are enterprises that engage in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) which they own and also control value-added activities in many different countries around the globe (Mayrhofer & Prange, 2015). Their activities take place in different forms of subsidiaries; it can be a wholly-owned subsidiary or joint venture. They also exist in various forms, ranging from large groups to smaller companies that invest abroad. They relate and corporate with local companies and interact independently with other actors. Multinational Corporations promote global governance in the sense that; World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank; whose responsibilities is to create a suitable trading environment and prevent financial crisis liaise with MNCs to promote good governance globally, as Levy and Newel stated that:

MNCs, in their role as investors, innovators, experts, manufacturers, lobbyists, and employers, are critical players in developing the architecture of global governance. They are increasingly prominent in negotiating formal intergovernmental regimes, such as the Kyoto Protocol, and in scientific advisory panels to these regimes. They participate in quasi-private policy bodies such as the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue, which are becoming increasingly influential in trade and investment policy (Coen, 1999). In collaboration with private and public partners, they establish standards and codes of conduct that govern not just products but also environmental practices and labour conditions (Levy & Newel, 2006).

With the advancement of technology, the power of MNCs has increased in promoting global governance and also making sure that they are also abiding by the trade policies of establishing good social responsibilities. These networks depend on the strengths of the individual of the MNCs, internal governments, and non-governmental organizations to make expected standards of behaviour in areas like; environmental standards, labour rights, and dealing conditions.

International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs): Throughout history, there have always been groups that are not directly associated with formal governments, but they aim to accomplish certain goals; however, as the past half century unfolded, specific criteria emerged to describe these organizations. While Willetts (2011) acknowledges that it is difficult to define these non-profit organizations, he defines them as non-governmental organizations (INGOs) that do not represent governments directly, do not intervene in criminal activity, and do not follow a profit-based approach to governing. The term INGOs simply refers to a global version of NGOs as well as NGOs that represent issues that are not limited to the influence of one nation-state, or that are not defined by national boundaries. Among the numerous distinctions of civil society groups such as INGOs, one of the most important is that they are free from direct government control, as well as from profit motives, which is what distinguishes them from others. There are some situations where it can be difficult to make the distinction between an INGO that is owned or financed by a government or a criminal organization, or even a corporation that is in control of the INGO without revealing the links transparently. INGOs are recognized as non-profit organizations that have no direct ties to governments, criminal organizations (such as terrorist groups or tobacco companies), or corporations (such as tobacco producers), but act directly for them. If this happens, then they will lose credibility and most likely even their status as a legitimate organization.

Even though INGOs constitute a broad group of organizations, they are distinct from other actors in international affairs. Scholars now place greater emphasis on the impact and influence of these organizations on global affairs and policy due to the growth in the number of INGOs over the past 50 years from fewer than 2000 to nearly 25000. INGOs now influence global policy debate, formulation, and implementation to varying degrees. Research is currently being conducted on the extent and degree of their influence. In their work, scholars observed that INGOs play a key role in the creation, implementation, and discussion of global policies. Expert opinions from INGOs are also credited when determining whether global policies meet the needs of the intended recipients (policy evaluation). Dany (2013) explored how some INGOs influence global policy through external means, such as protests and obstruction. When Green Peace interferes with whaling vessels, this constitutes protest and obstruction. On the other hand, Dany (2013) investigated an existing global policy-making forum where nongovernmental organizations influence policy within existing international institutions, such as the United Nations. By focusing on structural influence, Weiss (2014) and Sinclair (2013) address the institutional and policy gaps in global governance that INGOs fill when governments are unable, or unwilling, to do so. Despite some consensus and general opinion that INGO participation leads to greater influence, Dany found that certain structures within global policy-making organizations limit INGO influence.


To analyze the role of the institution in promoting global governance, the theory of liberal institutionalism was adopted in this paper. The origin of liberal institutionalism can be traced back to the time when the First World War ended, at the end when it persuaded one overriding goal; the establishment of peace. Initially, it was directly sought by establishing an institution, like the League of Nations that would embody a new liberal order (Richardson, 2015). In the years following the Second World War, the development of multinational and regional institutions began, rejuvenating “functionalist” conceptions that had started to contradict key realistic values in the 1930s. Enacted by publications such as David Mitrany’s 1933 book “The Progress of International Government” functionalism claims that power is not inherently supplanted by nation-states throughout territorial states. Instead, the government is a collection of roles that may and can maybe be carried out all across state boundaries by a combination of state and non-state players specialized in specific tasks. This is self-perpetuating: when organizations in several practical fields acquire deep knowledge and collaborate successfully to exert power, nation-states offer even more authority to foreign institutions. And, following liberalism, this connection disincentives battle (Johnson & Heiss, 2018).

The original formulation of international bodies as solutions to the problems of global governance incorporated a broad assumption that the prototype of state relations was linked to the scope of the issue they were meant to solve. Institutions that presented cooperation, for example, were self-reinforcing and did not involve extensive monitoring and policies in place. So, they were probable to be highly institutionalized and codified. Cooperative solutions to prisoner’s dilemma problems, on the other hand, were sensitive to defection and deception and were very concerned with implementation and supervision (Stein, 2008). As part of the promotion of international cooperation, international institutions have become increasingly valued. Several arguments have been made to explain how institutions, with their capacity to provide a common ground for interaction between states, play a mediating role as well as encourage cooperation between them. Additionally, they maintain that states’ shared interests will likely minimize their differences, leading to a greater likelihood of sustained cooperation between them in the future. There is no question that states are rational players; they aim to maximize their absolute gains by cooperating with other states and are less concerned with relative gains. In the study, institutions are regarded as intermediate variables with a significant impact on state behaviour in terms of formulating and/or reformulating their policy preferences and choices. This theory argued that emphasis should be placed on global governance and international organizations as a way of explaining international relations. This is because, the only way to achieve global governance in international relations, is to get states to cooperate. And to do that, there is a need for international organizations. It is for this reason, that this theory rejects the realist assumptions that; in international politics, the power struggle is the only variable. When the power struggle engulfs the international system, then, the order in international relations will be missing, and there will be nothing called global governance. But, with the emergence of institutionalism which supports international organizations as a variable of promoting governance, the order is established and is still maintained in the international system.

Looking at the assumptions of the theory of liberal institutionalism, this research adopted this theory because the sanctions on the Republic of Iran by the United Nations Security Council show the role of the international institution in the international system. The sanctions were placed because of the reason that the attitude and the behaviours of the Republic of Iran show a threat to international peace and security, and considering the theory’s-based arguments, the existing international institution should maintain the behaviours of the state because of the fear of chaos in the global order.

Sanctions against Iran as a tool for Promoting Global Governance

To begin with, the moment the UN is trying to sanction a country, what they normally do is, first of all, use all the financial institutions because the political economy of sanction is that; such a country that has been sanctioned will find it difficult to get financial aid and financial assistance from the international financial institutions recognized by the UN such as; the IMF, and the World Bank. Even the World Trade Organization (WTO) too, would make it difficult for such a country to transact any of its products in an international market (Olapuso, 2021).

 This is a very terrible implication for Iran’s economy to experience such a series of sanctions; starting from when the U.S. sanctioned Iran as a result of response to the 1979 revolution when Tehran invaded the U.S. embassy and kept the citizens hostage. Sanction is a mechanism, a strategy, and checks those countries under totalitarian regimes; those countries where power is personalized (Olapuso, 2021). Sanctions will make you fear violating people’s human rights using personalization of power, and a leader will think that after leaving office, he/she will be a call to account for mistakes he/she did while in office. For instance, Albashir of Sudan; right now, is being hunted for crimes in Darfur before the international criminal court. So, the sanctions of the UN against the Islamic Republic of Iran are being imposed to ensure global governance and ensure stability. Global governance here has a way of moderating states in the global system so that there can be law and order; a reasonable one to a reasonable extent (Dauda, 2021).

There is little consequence for violations of UN sanctions, including targeted sanctions, which is perhaps indicative of the low level of political resolve behind global governance. It may now be useful to assess the viability of these strategies following years of Security Council sanctions intended to curtail conflicts. It is questionable whether security council sanctions can be linked-to guidelines for governance and due diligence set by a non-global organization. Recent changes in geopolitics, economics, and value systems make this question all the more relevant (Carisch & Rickard-Martin, 2013). Sanction is one of the tools for achieving certain goals and objectives at the international level. Sanction is a strategy and a process. This is because the United Nations did not slump Iran like that without any reason, but they acted following the recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) within the time frame. It was when Iran crossed the boundary not stating the clear intention of its nuclear programme within the time given, then the sanctions by the UN were imposed. Though, Sanction was not the first option to use on Iran, rather the last option considering how Iran could not specify its intention, and also could not respond to the call by the United Nations (Agaba, 2021).

Sanctions are being conceived as a strategy on their own for global governance. The UN sanctions against Iran can be seen as a strategy to ensure that Iran acts within the law. For example, if nations are not sanctioned, nations would have gone beyond normal, and you would have seen nations invading another, but because of fear of sanctions, and fear of United Nations sanctions, you will see leaders behaving themselves the way everyone i.e., expected to behave at the global arena (Jacob, 2021).

 This is to say, for nations not to go out of place, a sanction is being established, and a sanction is a strategy. Nations for example Nigeria will have a president that will want to go against the UN or international law, but because of UN sanctions, the leader will be restrained. Some nations have acted, and their actions had been countered by sanctions and they have learned. So, sanctions are seen as strategies as well as a medium of correction (Jacob 2021). It is mainly in this regard it is a bit impromptu, which means you shouldn’t imagine a UN system like a local government, local governments have national strategies, and budgets and they can proceed hypothetically, but in the case of UN sanctions, part of global governance, operates through problems, it depends on the problem, for example, if it is Taliban, if it is Iran, it is nuclear problem. It is a kind of path-dependent process. So, if it is a developmental strategy, then you should study the history of the UN in this regard, we shouldn’t imagine the UN just like thinking at a national level, or universities that people are gathering to formulate the best scenario or the best principle not like that. Iran mostly in this regard is reacting; counter reacting. And in it, so it happens mainly, again, the negotiations around security concepts. This is the key point. So, because the keyword here is sanction. And in each case, we need some powers around that, for example, in some cases, some team members such as China, Russia, or the US put some reservations against some sanctions, which means that it is not easy to recall, create a conciliation among these great powers plus the other members. And it is critical to remind on this point that the election to the Security Council, I mean, non-permanent members are very competitive in recent years because of these decisions. The key issue is UN is again, the platform, and it is mainly ad hoc in this regard. So, it is a long and complicated process because every time there’s another problem, the UN should react (Bacik, 2021).

The lack of a clear understanding and application of the categories of “sanctions” and “coercion” sometimes leads to confusion. It is known that in the UN framework, these two are openly confronted. We should note two characteristics of the institution of coercion in the international legal system. On the one hand, while resorting to the countermeasure mechanism, it is possible that coercion can be carried out by states in a decentralized way. On the other hand, the UN consolidates the collective enforcement of coercive measures against the violating state and thus uses central coercion. As a result, we can say that the enforcement against the Islamic Republic of Iran at the international level in the UN system is realized through international law sanctions. These sanctions aim to maintain international peace and security in the broadest sense. Sanctions against Iran first of all, constitute coercive measures taken against them for not complying with the rules of law. However, this is only one side of the event. The meaning of sanction is also to prevent and reduce the possible crimes that could be committed by a violator, and Iran has been recorded among countries that support terrorism. (Genc, 2021). Sanctions sometimes are done frontally, sometimes late, and sometimes mid-way. Sometimes sanctions are discovered based on who is involved. If the superpowers’ interests are not much strength in those countries that are the king of an infraction, they ensure that the sanctions are measured out even before the action is carried out (Adeyinka, 2021). But, if the superpowers’ interests are much, they would rather see if they mediate to avoid or avert sanctions.

According to (Kenes, 2021):

The UN sanctions on Iran are not smart. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes ineffective. It is not easy, for instance, as I said in Iraq, Iran, and Sudan, it is some effect but not lead to a solution, until now there are not any cases without a solution, thanks to UN sanctions. You know there is an NPT, to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world, but in Pakistan, India, and North Korea, nobody could say that the NPT is successful. In Iran, even this P5 +1 nuclear deal is just a temporary effect, because according to my analysis Iranian nuclear policy is so widely for the survival of the regime there because the Iranian regime will never be a normal member of the international community because they think that nuclear capacity is a necessity for them, they will never give up, they can suspend the policy they seem to be suspended this policy for 5 years, 10 years, but they even doing the period of the deal, I am sure that some uranium elements related to regime continue to improve nuclear capacity or continue to enrich uranium, because like north Korea, they seem that it is so essential to keep the regime’s allies, and they need the nuclear capacity as a deterrent element, also as a prestige, above international prestige, and preside inside the country. So, I do not think that United N sanctions give effective results, and you know terminated in 2020 and changed nothing.

Sanctions sometimes are mid-way, sometimes accurate at the time it should be, sometimes slate, and sometimes never – because there are several occasions some leaders of countries were accused of war crimes, example; Saddam Hussain of Iraq, was arrested immediately, Lauren of Court d’Ivoire the same thing he was arrested. Coming to some countries like Saudi Arabia, for example, the death of Khashoggi; the journalist disappeared, and nobody knows where he is, though they said he was dismembered and killed at the Saudi embassy in Turkey. The whole world was expecting the U.S. to place sanctions on Saudi Arabia, but they are doing everything normally without any restrictions. The prince of Saudi even visited the U.S., and when President Trump was asked what happened, he said they have over 100 billion dollars with Saudi Arabia, and that should be protected first. So, looking at that, you can understand that; the measurement of sanctions depends on who is involved (Adeyinka, 2021). Therefore, it has been institutionalized, increased its legitimacy, and the UN has achieved success in this field thanks to powerful countries in the decision-making mechanism. Although the decisions taken by the UN through the security council are anti-democratic, this mechanism has played an important role in the development of international law (Genc, 2021).

Global governance has already been achieved through sanctions. After the Cold War, they became a key instrument in global affairs, even though they were considered regime terminology at the time. A variety of compliance issues are addressed around the world through sanctions based on the data gathered. The use of sanctions offers states the opportunity to engage in both intentional and narrowly defined foreign policy actions.

The Assessment of the UN Sanctions on Iran

The investigation conducted in this study shows that there has been some success for the sanctions imposed on Iran. There has been a great deal of research on whether sanctions deliver the goals sought by their “senders,” i.e., the countries that impose them. Since the 1970s, assessment attitudes have evolved from widespread pessimism to an optimistic outlook in the mid-1980s and late 1990s, followed by a period of critical reflection, which led to more diverse research questions. Regarding the question of whether sanctions “work,” things took a curious backward turn. Based on the assumption that sanctions aim to force targeted states to concede to senders’ demands, it is assumed that measuring whether or not this occurs would be relatively straightforward (Jones & Portele, 2020). There is no meaningful way to measure success against these goals based on the dominant focus on compliance; this is far from the truth. There was a methodological disagreement about how sanctions should be measured between Elliott and Pape, as well as between Pape and Baldwin later. Despite the variety of methodological concerns expressed by researchers, the key issue in the Elliott-Pape exchange was how to prove that sanctions led to compliance. It was never answered. It remains quite difficult if not impossible to establish conclusively that sanctions, and not any other factor, led to the target’s decision to comply with sanctions. Sanctions are often part of a broader policy strategy that involves the simultaneous use of other policy instruments. In part, the difficulty in establishing a causal link between sanctions and compliance can be explained by the fact that the mechanisms by which sanctions are supposed to work are remarkably unknown. There are many different ways sanctions can accomplish or contribute to their target-related aims as evidenced by the many case studies in the subfield (Jones & Portele, 2020).

The sanctions against Iran have always a kind of slowed down. This is because Iran now is backsliding; they are having a change of mind and orientation concerning the top-filling of uranium and other activities, that the essence of the uranium is not for warfare, not for biological weapons, not for the destruction of humanity, but it is for the essence of energy generation and other positive things. So, the Iranian government is having a rethink, and that will be a positive change, and say, the sanction has succeeded in changing the orientation of the Iranian stakeholders, and in changing the direction of the policies of the Iranian government. (Jacob, 2021).

 The sanction was a kind of global signal, it has succeeded because, at the time of this interview, Iran has not developed a weapon from uranium the reason for the agreement they entered with the P5+1; the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), rather they are now looking forward at the economic aspect of the uranium, and it has also down-tension at the region because other neighbouring countries are already afraid of Iran, and that is the fact. Some nations are already afraid and are not too sure of what Iran is up to, but now the tension is down. So, it has succeeded to some extent (Jacob, 2021). The success of the UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran can be measured when Iran has completely changed its attitude because of the impact of the sanctions on its either economic or political stability. But, looking at Iran’s behaviour and attitude towards the international sanctions, it is well understood that the sanctions against Iran can be said it has a limited impact, or rather it can be said only delayed and slowed what they are intended on doing. Sanctions only delayed what Iran was intending of doing (Ghali, 2022). Though, it is arguable that the sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran by the United Nations have pushed Iran to limit its action, particularly Iran agreeing to join the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to clear its intention regarding the stockpiling of its uranium programme (Adeyinka, 2022).

For Iran, their ideology is important, and ideology cannot be killed with force. Only ideology challenges a given ideology, and that is what Iran understood, so, they are abiding by their ideology. They make citizens understand that; their ideology is more important and beneficial to them. So, change of ideology is difficult and seems not possible by the use of force, and it takes a lot of patients. So, coercive may not be a measure that can be used (Adeyinka, 2021). Also, the sanctions against Iran cannot be considered successful because; punishing someone that is not feeling the pain of the punishment is regarded as a failure to achieve the aim of the punishment. So, Iran not complying with the UN’s sanctions fully can be regarded as less effective (Olapuso, 2021).

The sanctions in Iran in my opinion are not successful. It is effective, but not so effective to have a result, but Iran’s nuclear policy; national policy for the regime, and survival policy, continued to enrich uranium in Iran, UN sanctions didn’t stop it but just deluded, and the Iranian regime today still survive, and it not democratic, not open to improving freedoms of liberties and human rights in the country, it is not open to create an open society, so to my opinion, it is not successful. But emerging Iran without UN sanctions will be much more terrible. So, it is partially successful, but it is not (Kenes, 2021).

Tehran’s decision to accelerate its uranium enrichment activities in the post-2000 period brought Iran to the agenda of world public opinion and caused the UNSC to take multilateral sanctions. In this context, starting from 2006 and until 2015 by the Security Council, within the framework of the 7th title and 41st article; A total of 7 sanctions were taken, in 1696, 1737, 1947, 1803, 1835, 1929, and 22247. The negative effects of these sanctions on Iran were especially economical and Iran was forced to suspend its nuclear activities in 2015. These sanctions imposed by the United Nations on Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons have yielded partially positive results (Genc, 2021).

The success of sanctions depends on the situation the country was found in before sanctions, compared to the situation after sanctions together with the period of the sanctions. We can’t say yes or no, it depends on the period. So, here’s the logic; any international strategy toward Iran, its success depends on many parameters, international dynamics, and domestic dynamics. So rather than questioning if it succeeded, we should try to understand why it was better, or for example, in these times, not only because of the recent elections in Iran but because of other developments, it is not advisable to think that it is a time we expect a quick solution on sanctions because Iran particularly after Syrian civil war, imagine that they are facing an ontological threat. So now, regional countries, including Iran, are much more secure first states. No matter what the issue is they take it from a security perspective. So, for the time being, it is skeptical, but there were some times when it worked (Bacik, 2021).


Finally, this paper outlined the structure of the United Nations’ global governance, taking a study from the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran as a means of promoting global governance. Sanctions in the international system are being imposed to prevent anarchic kind from taking over the system. This is because when the states are left with the struggle of achieving their interests, the system will not be in order again. So, establishing the United Nations with the legitimacy of using force on the members where necessary is highly crucial. The international sanctions are being imposed not for any individual benefits, but for the maintenance of international peace and security, except if there are elements of suspicion in that sanctions, then, it can be debated. Iran as a country, displaying an act condemned by the international convention of putting a threat to international peace and security cannot be recognized and accepted by the United Nations, the entire system itself. Though some scholars argued that sanctions against Iran have some elements of political influence, some are arguing that it was a result of the country’s ideology and political regimes. Still, in the end, it is linked to the issue of promoting global governance, which is the reason the country was sanctioned.


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