The purpose of this paper is to discuss economic sanctions used against South Africa to combat apartheid. Economic sanctions against South Africa were first enacted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1962. These sanctions included boycotting its goods and refraining from exporting goods to South Africa. Over the years, as the international community tried to end the system of apartheid, those sanctions, which the Assembly had repeatedly condemned as a "crime against humanity, were expanded."
The United Nations Security Council instituted a voluntary arms embargo against South Africa in 1963, making it mandatory in 1977--the first time such an action had been taken against a member state. Also in 1977, the Assembly asked the Council to consider imposing mandatory economic sanctions, and in 1979, to consider a mandatory embargo on oil and oil products.
The International Convention against Apartheid in Sports, adopted by the Assembly in 1985, entered into force in 1988. The Convention obliged states parties not to permit sports contacts with countries practicing apartheid. In 1986, the Assembly set up the Intergovernmental Group to Monitor the Supply and Shipping of Oil and Petroleum Products to South Africa. Its mandate was terminated at the end of 1993.
The Reagan administration pursued a policy of "constructive engagement" with the South African government, applying diplomatic pressure for change but avoiding direct confrontation or heavy criticism whenever possible. Many black South Africans, including N. Chabani Manganyi of the University of the Witwatersrand, believed that Reagan's policy of constructive engagement was not one that fulfilled his administration's moral policy to the people of South Africa and the international community. According to Manganyi, whereas the Carter administration gave the South African blacks hope, the Reagan administration was preparing them for despair.