The debate on the usefulness of sanctions as a foreign and security policy tool follows a familiar pattern. Proponents of sanctions cite well-known success stories, while opponents highlight evident failures. This is not surprising, because sanctions are a highly political issue, with both sides of the debate persuasively arguing their case. But the choice of examples selected to make a case for or against sanctions is often biased, and not much can be learned from case studies drawn from skewed samples. The aim of this chapter is to move the debate forward, in the direction of more evidence-based policymaking. Our point of departure is that the use of sanctions should be preceded by a strategic evaluation of their appropriateness in a specific case. This will help to improve the selection of distinct types of targeted sanctions, because gaining a clear understanding of the determinants of success and failure of sanctions in the past is a prerequisite for better evidence-based sanction design. Evidence-based policymaking needs to consider both failures and successes. It is only by studying successes, failures and intermediate outcomes that we can understand the determinants of sanction efficacy