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Originally conceived by Woodrow Wilson as a key component of the post–World War I order within the League of Nations, the effective application of economic and other sanctions did not develop unilaterally until after World War II and developed multilaterally only after the post–Cold War era. Despite some examples of punitive sanctions taking an economic toll when imposed unilaterally, such as the United States against Cuba and Iran and the former Soviet Union against Armenia, multilateral sanctions have become the norm as they have both the greatest legitimacy and chance of success. Thus, they constitute the main focus of this entry.

Since 1990, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has imposed sanctions against 19 nations and entities, while regional organizations, most notably the European Union and ...

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