Sanctions refer to a form of economic penalty imposed by one country on another. They are usually imposed to compel the violating country to comply with the rules and regulations of international trade agreements or to address other concerns such as human rights abuses or the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Sanctions can be enforced by restricting access to trade, stopping financial transactions or freezing assets. It is important to note that sanctions are voluntary agreements between two countries, which means that the countries involved have agreed to comply with the terms of the sanctions.

The most common types of sanctions are trade sanctions, which are imposed by a country or group of countries to restrict the flow of goods and services in and out of the targeted country. This can include the prohibition of exports and imports, as well as the restriction of certain goods or services. For example, in 2014, the United States and European Union imposed a series of sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. These sanctions restricted the export of goods and services to Russia, as well as the import of Russian products.

Sanctions are used as a tool to put pressure on countries to comply with international laws. By restricting trade with a particular country, sanctions can cause economic pain and force the targeted country to negotiate and comply with the regulations. Sanctions can also be used to deter countries from engaging in certain activities, such as supporting terrorism or engaging in nuclear weapon development.

The effectiveness of sanctions as a tool of foreign policy is debatable. Some argue that sanctions are an effective way to force countries to comply with international law, citing examples such as South Africa ending apartheid after years of sanctions. Others, however, argue that sanctions are counterproductive and cause more harm than good, especially in cases where sanctions have led to humanitarian crises.

In conclusion, sanctions are voluntary agreements between countries to restrict trade. They are a form of economic penalty that is often used to compel countries to comply with international laws or other concerns. While their effectiveness as a tool of foreign policy may be up for debate, sanctions remain an important component of international relations that can be used to address a range of issues.