IPI HomePublicationsPolicy PapersNorth Korea & the UN Security Council: Action, Reaction, Trust, and Mistrust

 

print print  |  share share back back

Policy Papers - March 08, 2013

North Korea & the UN Security Council: Action, Reaction, Trust, and Mistrust


Eduardo Zachary Albrecht

 

 

North Korea’s underground nuclear test on February 12, 2013, was the latest in a series of provocations that form part of a slow-motion proliferation strategy. As the UN Security Council responded with sanctions in early March, the world body again contributed to a pattern of action, reaction, trust, and mistrust with the recalcitrant state.

These are the implications of this report on the relationship between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the UN Security Council. It explores the recent history of the relationship by analyzing four similar episodes—missile firings in July 2006, a nuclear test in October 2006, a second nuclear test in May 2009, and a rocket launch in April 2012—and the Security Council’s reaction in each case.

It finds the Security Council’s approach of responding to such provocations with expanded but largely rhetorical sanctions has played further into the hands of the DPRK: the more the government is chastised and isolated, the more it can exploit its gray area in the international legal system and portray itself as the legitimate defender of the Korean people against a hostile outside world.

To avoid contributing to the DPRK’s strategic interests, the author suggests that the Security Council consider removing itself from this cycle of action and reaction. Instead, it could focus on preventive actions at the technical level of existing sanctions. This way, the Council would stay one step ahead of the DPRK, diminish the state’s reliance on the proliferation narrative, and build a more sustainable foundation for moving toward lasting disarmament.

When new resolutions and statements are issued, the report further shows that a period of calm is more likely to ensue when their provisions address the strategic interests of major regional players—and not just those of the DPRK.

About the Author:

Eduardo Zachary Albrecht is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and International Relations at Pukyong National University in South Korea.

The Global Observatory

India-US Cooperation Grows With Obama Visit
The visit is particularly important for efforts related to stability and security in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

Key Global Events to Watch in January
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2015: Ten Multilateral Events to Watch This Year
A list of ten events that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2015, compiled by IPI’s Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

January 20, 2015
Mongolian Foreign Policy Between ''Two Giants''
On January 20, Mongolia’s new Foreign Minister Purevsuren Lundeg visited the IPI Vienna office and gave an informal briefing on Mongolia’s contemporary foreign policy priorities and challenges.

January 20, 2015
Dutch FM Koenders: ''The Security Council Has to Change''
Speaking to an overflow IPI audience on January 20th, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders acknowledged how far the United Nations has come since its inception 70 years ago but said that the organization still “has a lot of growing up to do.”

December 15, 2014
Fathi: Iran and the Struggle Between Hardliners and Reformers
Discussing her new book The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran at IPI on December 15th, author Nazila Fathi said that 35 years after the revolution, Iran is divided between hardliners and a large moderate middle class, but admitted that it is still unclear which of the two sides will gain the upper hand.

View More