Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

There's an App for That

July 3, 2013

In late June, Senior Fellow Sue Eckert and Adjunct Professor of International Studies Thomas Biersteker launched the SanctionsApp at the Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations in New York. The free application, designed for mobile phones and tablets, is based on the research of the international Targeted Sanctions Consortium (TSC), which Eckert and Biersteker co-direct. TSC databases and analysis include all 22 UN sanctions regimes from the past 20 years, and provide policymakers and scholars examining, designing, or implementing United Nations sanctions easy access to a host of useful information.

Along with detailed executive summaries of 65 sanction episodes, SanctionsApp includes comparative information on each episode covering, among other things, assessment of political will, purposes, targets, norms supported, and types of sanctions. There is also information regarding implementation, unintended consequences, impact, and the relationship between UN targeted sanctions and other sanctions regimes, as part of the overall measurement of sanctions' effectiveness.

SanctionsApp, developed at the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (where Biersteker is professor of political science) with the support of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, was produced by Eckert and Biersteker, along with colleagues Marcos Tourinho, Zuzana Hudakova, and Cecilia Cannon (pictured, with Biersteker and Eckert, at right) of the Graduate Institute. The TSC, which comprises some 50 scholars and policy practitioners from around the world studying the impacts and effectiveness of UN targeted sanctions, is the first systematic, comprehensive, international effort to analyze and make policy recommendations regarding the effectiveness of UN targeted sanctions.

"This was such an exciting tool to work on," says Eckert. "As scholars, we need to think about new ways to make our research more accessible and relevant to policymakers." Feedback from the policy community has been very positive, and, says Eckert, "for a specialized app, it's doing well, having been downloaded more than 300 times within the first day." To date the number of downloads is well over 1,000.

SanctionsApp is available on the Apple App Store and Android Market / Play store. Regular Internet browsers will be able to access the tool this fall. Click here for more detailed information about SanctionsApp.