Fanning the Flames: The Impact of U.S. Targeted Sanctions on Foreign Militant Activity



Nathalie Kiersznowski, Stanford University

Date and Time

April 22, 2021 2:30 PM - 3:15 PM


RSVP Required.


Virtual Seminar

THIS EVENT STARTS AT 2:40PM. Introductions will start at 2:40pm. Each presentation will be 20 minutes with a 10 minute discussion.


* Please note all CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.


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About the Event: How do U.S. and UN targeted sanctions impact the behavior and strategies of militant groups? Despite several theories on the use of sanctions to punish non-state actors, scholars have largely neglected the impact of targeted sanction application on militant group behavior. This thesis combines an original dataset of 160 U.S. and UN sanction regimes with data on the activity of over 600 militant groups to examine the relationship between sanction imposition and militant activity. The results show mixed impact of sanctions on militant activity. While UN targeted sanctions precipitate falls in militant activity, unilateral U.S. sanctions are associated with a significant increase in violence committed by sanctioned groups. Comparative analysis of two militant groups in India –The National Democratic Front of Bodoland and Hizbul Mujahideen– explores the causality of this finding. U.S. sanctions strip militant groups of international legitimacy but often fail to limit their availability to resources. As a result, U.S. sanctions reduce the incentives of non-state actors to seek international recognition and constrain the forms of violence and insurgency they employ. This thesis illustrates the importance of international cooperation in ensuring targeted sanctions effectively limit the operating capabilities of militant groups.


About the Speaker: Nathalie is a senior from Kansas City, Kansas, studying Economics and Political Science. Her experiences working for the World Bank and studying at Oxford have made her passionate about the intersection of economic development, human rights, and violence prevention. After graduation, she plans on conducting economic analysis for the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity in Washington, D.C.