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Elin Hellquist

About me

Welcome to my page at Stockholm University! As a researcher at the Department of Political Science, I am interested in the evolving role of sanctions and other institutionalized forms of punishment in (re)shaping international politics. The fundamental question guiding my work is whether and how it matters for international politics whom the sender of a sanction is. Arguing for a 'relational' understanding of sanctions, I analyse the different legitimacy bases of traditional out-group sanctions used in foreign policy and the more novel in-group sanctions used by regional organizations against their own members.

My postdoctoral project "Varieties of Punishment - Regional Sanctions in Theory and Practice" is funded by the Swedish Research Council's International Postdoctoral Program. In this project, I seek to explain why the European Union, the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the League of Arab States have developed diverging approaches to the use of sanctions against their own members.

I received my PhD in December 2012 from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy (supervisor: Professor Friedrich Kratochwil). Thereafter, I spent three years as an associated fellow at the research college KFG 'The Transformative Power of Europe', Freie Universität Berlin (Directors: Professor Tanja A. Börzel and Professor Thomas Risse). I have three children, born 2013, 2015, and 2017.


Main Fields of Interest

  • Sanctions and other forms of punishment in international politics
  • Regional organisations as actors in regional and global governance (esp. EU, AU, Arab League, ASEAN)
  • History of regional cooperation
  • Norm conflicts in discourse and practice
  • Critical social constructivism, interpretivism


2018: Ostracism and the EU’s contradictory approach to sanctions at home and abroad, Contemporary Politics, Published online 11 December 2018. Full text (open access) DOI: 10.1080/13569775.2018.1553083

2016: Either with us or against us? Third-country alignment with EU sanctions against Russia/Ukraine, in Cambridge Review of International Affairs 29(3), 997-1021. Available at       

2015: Shoddy Sanctions, in: The Disorder of Things, 24 November 2015. Available at:

2015: Interpreting sanctions in Africa and Southeast Asia, in: International Relations 29(3), 319-333, doi:10.1177/0047117815600934 . Available in full text (open access) at:

2014: Regional Organizations and Sanctions Against Members: Explaining the Different Trajectories of the African Union, the League of Arab States, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. KFG Working Paper No 59, January 2014, Free University of Berlin. Available in full text at:

2012: Creating 'the Self' by Outlawing 'the Other'? EU foreign policy sanctions and the quest for credibility. EUI PhD theses; Department of Political and Social Sciences Florence : European University Institute, defended 10 December 2012. Available in full text at:

co-authored with De Witte, B./Trechsel, A./Damjanovic, D./Hien, J. 2010: Legislating after Lisbon: New opportunities for the European Parliament, EUDO Report 2010/1, Florence: Robert Schuman Centre.



A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Either with us or against us? Third-country alignment with EU sanctions against Russia/Ukraine

    2016. Elin Hellquist. Cambridge Review of International Affairs 29 (3), 997-1021


    Since the mid-1990s, selected neighbours have in impressive numbers aligned with European Union (EU) foreign policy sanctions. However, much more than for any other sanctions case, neighbours have declined joining recent measures against Russia/Ukraine. This article uses freshly gathered data from the entire period of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) to analyse how the practice of alignment influences international relations in Europe. Thereby, the article demonstrates that: (1) sanctions are not a two-party game, but an instrument that impacts broadly on relations with third countries; (2) alignment with sanctions not only articulates similarity, but contributes to normative polarization in wider Europe; (3) for a high-salience case such as Russia sanctions, neighbours are reluctant to be instrumentalized for EU foreign policy purposes.

    Read more about Either with us or against us? Third-country alignment with EU sanctions against Russia/Ukraine
  • Interpreting sanctions in Africa and Southeast Asia

    2015. Elin Hellquist. International Relations 29 (3), 319-333


    The Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were both born to stabilise vulnerable state borders by practising non-interference in domestic affairs. Today, the OAU's successor, the African Union (AU), uses sanctions against unconstitutional changes of government, while ASEAN continues to rule out any collective punitive action against members. To explain these divergent trajectories, this article first shows how different traditions produced different ways of engaging with sanctions in the early formative cases of South Africa and Vietnam. Thereafter, it examines how these traditions were selectively re-thought when confronted with the dilemmas of international sanctions against Libya and Myanmar. The interpretive approach enables a nuanced account of continuity and change in beliefs about sanctions. The AU's sanctions doctrine has updated rather than broken with a traditional interpretation of non-interference. For ASEAN, the longstanding tradition of informality - and not strict adherence to non-interference - has continued to rule out regional sanctions.

    Read more about Interpreting sanctions in Africa and Southeast Asia

Show all publications by Elin Hellquist at Stockholm University