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Why did international sanctions work on South Africa but not other dictatorships?

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By Joshua Keating – Slate: Thursday, December 12, 2013


Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 13.53.02Today, the international sanctions against South Africa, along with the public divestment campaign in the United States and other countries, are remembered as the textbook examples of how international economic pressure can create the impetus for political change in repressive regimes. Of course, it would go too far, and give far too little credit to Nelson Mandela and his allies, to argue that international pressure was the main reason that apartheid fell. In the years since, some economists have even questioned just how much impact they really had.

Screen Shot 2012-11-24 at 09.09.57The apartheid regime’s brutality reached a new level in 1984, and one response came when the Free South Africa Movement engaged people from all walks of life in daily demonstrations and in civil disobedience for more than a year. Shantytowns sprung up on college campuses that had not yet divested, an international campaign against Royal Dutch Shell was launched in 1986.



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