The situation in the Korean Peninsula is at the top of the global agenda right now. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, returning from a rare visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) by a senior UN official, recently called it “the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue in the world today.” The Security Council discussed non-proliferation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) again today, a meeting that saw the participation of the Secretary-General and senior representatives of a number of member States.
Over the last 11 years, the Security Council has responded unanimously to a series of nuclear and missile tests conducted by the DPRK with increasingly tough texts imposing sanctions and calling for a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the situation. The first set of Security Council sanctions came in October 2006, following the DPRK’s first nuclear test. With the adoption of resolution 1718 (2006), the Council established the 1718 Committee, which is tasked to oversee the relevant sanctions measures relating to the DPRK.
After the country’s second nuclear test, in 2009, the Sanctions Committee created a Panel of Experts to oversee the implementation of the sanctions measures and report twice a year to the Committee and the Security Council. The Panel of Experts is based in New York and gathers, examines and analyzes information from States, relevant United Nations bodies and other interested parties regarding the implementation of the measures, in particular, on incidents of non-compliance. The Panel of Experts makes recommendations on actions that the Council, Committee or Member States may consider to improve implementation of the measures; and has the power to ‘name-and-shame’ Member States in case of non-compliance in their biannual reports.
The focus of the sanctions measures has shifted over the years. The focus of sanctions measures was initially the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programs. They were subsequently extended to include other weapons, as well as knowledge and training that could further the DPRK’s nuclear program. Gradually, sanctions on financial dealings and on luxury goods were included as well. And now sanctions cover any kind of revenue generation by the DPRK, like the coal, fish and textile industry and migrant workers, as well as target the DPRK’s access to energy sources.
All resolutions imposing sanctions contain clauses that the measures imposed are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for the DPRK’s civilian population. Nonetheless, the tightening sanctions measures having unintended side effects, is an issue that is frequently discussed within the UN system. Even if the sanctions measures include exemptions for specific entities and activities, certain countries and institutions may not want to take the risk of running afoul of the sanctions regime and therefore avoid engaging with the country.
In addition to resolution 1718 (2006), the Council has adopted eight sanctions resolutions: one in 2009, two in 2013, two in 2016 and three so far in 2017.
For more information on the 1718 Committee: https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1718
* This story was updated following the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2397 (2017) on 22 December 2017.