Publication Date

Fall 2006


Within the context of the Post-Cold War international system, the annulled presidential elections in Nigeria in 1993 and the subsequent hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight members of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) in 1995, the paper examines the argument for economic sanctions as a tool for international regime change. It clarifies the historical impact of colonialism and how that experience continues to constrain the use of traditional strategies of economic sanction to attempt to influence African governments, especially authoritarian governments. It argues that, if economic sanction as a tool of statecraft is to result in regime change, then its efficacy needs to be reexamined as it failed to influence Abacha's administration behavior, because of the absence of a coherent and sustained internal action by indigenous elites that desired an alternative governance structure from authoritarianism. Indeed, the paper suggests that without an internal coalition to counter the impact of authoritarianism within the domestic political space, especially in the case of Sub-Saharan African countries like Nigeria, there is no identifiable external interest for initiating regime change from the outside; therefore, economic sanctions are likely to be minimally supported by western governments who are likely to prefer strong rhetoric in support of free market and democratic principles.