If you look at map of Yemen then you can easily find out that it's surrounded by Oman and Saudi Arabia. As Saudi Arabia led coalition is causing a naval and land based blockade to Yemen - which has to import most of it's food , it's causing a humanitarian crisis (similar to the humanitarian crisis caused during seige of St. Petersburg during WW2) as people are dying because of starvation and it's definitely a clear violation of the Geneva convention. Here's a link - https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/yemen-saudi-blockade/

So what can the international community do to force Saudi Arabia to stop the blockade ?

  • Sink the ships doing the blockading?
    – Caleth
    Mar 6, 2018 at 13:11
  • @Caleth This would lead to an actual war between multiple nations - which is what multiple nations have to avoid
    – user17709
    Mar 6, 2018 at 15:22

1 Answer 1

  1. Generally, there are four main tools, in the order of escalation, to force a nation to do anything (including stopping a blockade) at the official UN level:

    • Offer mediation to help resolve underlying problem. The theory being that UN can offer guarantees to both parties to help negotiations.

    • Have non-binding votes that have little practical effects but present image problems for the blockader

    • Have a binding vote that imposes sanctions

    • Have a binding vote to authorize military force under UN auspices (ala First Gulf War).

  1. Of course, "an international body" may also simply use force outside the official UN level (e.g., a militarily powerful country - in case of Yemen it would be Russia or Iran based on alliance sides - would simply send its military forces unilaterally without UN approval, ala Russian war in Syria or US invasion of Iraq).

  1. Alternatively, the UN may decide to resolve the problem on the other end, and try to stop the issue which caused the blocade in the first place. While the humanitarian angle often makes people sympathize with the country being blocaded, more often than not they did something bad which caused the blocade to happen in the first place (almost no government in existence is Dr. Evil sitting their in their lair thinking "how can I spend a ton of my own money to cause a humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever"). For example, Saudi blocade of Yemen is caused by attacks by Shia on Sunnis (on a bumper sticker simplified level). US blocade of Cuba was caused by a threat of nuclear weapons being staged right next to US landmass. ENTENTE blocade of Germany was aimed to stop German attacks in World War I.

    You will notice that not once there seems to be a recent example of a blocade that was aimed at a non-belligerent non-threatening party. So, the easiest way to stop a blocade is to convince said belligerent/threatening party to stop the aggression which caused the blocade to be established in the first place - as was done in mentioned cases by removing soviet missles from Cuba, or making Germany sign the Versailles treaty.

  • 3
    Overall good answer, but your 3rd point seems questionable. History is full of countries doing awful things to further their own people's interests. You're right in the sense that it's rarely random, but I think the insinuation that a country usually did something to 'deserve it' might be lacking in foundation. Mar 6, 2018 at 14:11
  • @JackOfAllTrades234 - I may not be aware enough but I can only remember 4 big blocades in last century and 100% of those examples were exactly in the "done to deserve it" category, literally. Except for WWI, the purpose of the blocade was to stop the flow of offensive weapons aimed at the blocading country
    – user4012
    Mar 6, 2018 at 14:26
  • Option 2 is not really what the UN can do. it's more like what others can do. Mar 7, 2018 at 11:09
  • @user4012 The problem with point 3 is that you are assuming a mindset in which some "rogue" countries must behave or they can be subjected to a blocade by the "good" countries. The US threatened Cuba several times after WWII, and attempted some revolts and tried to assassinate Castro. Cuba asked for help to the USSR and tried to acquire some defensive weapons against the US menace. See what I did here? Why stationing nuclear weapons right next to US landmass is a major crime, but putting nukes in Turkey, right next to Russia, it is not? Why are they "offensive" instead of "defensive"?
    – Rekesoft
    Mar 7, 2018 at 11:40
  • @Rekesoft - nuclear missiles aren't defensive weapons, objectively. So, no I don't see what you did there. (and Castro was on written record as wanting to use them, not just have them as deterrent). And I totally would support the notion of blockade of Turkey over US missiles as being just as "just".
    – user4012
    Mar 7, 2018 at 12:18

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