Economic sanctions and the dynamics of terrorist campaigns

Elena V. McLean, Kaisa H. Hinkkainen, Luis De la Calle, Navin A. Bapat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although states rarely use economic sanctions specifically to combat transnational terrorism, potential targets of sanctions often face terrorist campaigns within their territory. States may avoid using sanctions against states with terrorists for fear of weakening target states excessively, thereby indirectly strengthening terrorist groups. However, this argument has not been subjected to rigorous empirical testing. This study presents a theoretical and empirical examination that explores how the imposition of sanctions affects the dynamics of ongoing terrorist campaigns in the targeted state. We argue that comprehensive sanctions that are imposed on targets that are fighting transnational terrorists within their territory should make these groups more resistant to collapse. However, similar sanctions imposed against states that serve as “home bases” or sanctuaries to terrorists should shorten the lifespan of these groups. Our empirical analysis yields results largely supportive of these theoretical expectations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-401
Number of pages24
JournalConflict Management and Peace Science
Issue number4
Early online date22 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Economic sanctions
  • transnational terrorism

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