Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


The United States differs from much of the world in trade policy towards Iran and Libya. Through the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996, it seeks to pressure other states to refrain from certain investments in the Libyan and Iranian economies. The statute's secondary boycott provisions threaten extraterritorial sanctions against wholly foreign corporations engaging in such trade.

This Note describes the legal history of U.S. attempts to enforce its policy preferences through extraterritorial trade controls. It then argues that the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 is likely invalid both under principles of general customary international law and under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Further, political considerations weigh against application of sanctions under the statute. This Note concludes that it would therefore be best if no sanctions are imposed.