• World
  • Mar 30

Russia vetoes UNSC resolution on monitoring of North Korea sanctions

• Russia vetoed the annual renewal of a panel of experts monitoring enforcement of longstanding United Nations sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

• This in effect abolishes the monitoring of UN sanctions against North Korea, blocking the extension of the panel for another year. The resolution does not alter the sanctions in place and they remain in force.

• The move comes amid US-led accusations that North Korea has transferred weapons to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine. 

• China abstained from the voting, while the remaining 13 UN Security Council members voted in favor.

Why are sanctions imposed?

• In 2006, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted a resolution imposing sanctions in response to North Korea’s nuclear test on October 9, 2006. 

• It imposed an arms embargo, assets freeze and travel ban on persons involved in North Korea’s nuclear programme, and a ban on a range of imports and exports, to prohibit the country from conducting nuclear tests or launching ballistic missiles. 

• The sanctions regime has been amended and extended by subsequent UNSC resolutions.

• In 2009, a panel of experts was set up to monitor and report on any sanctions-violating activities.

• The panel’s mandate expires annually at the end of April, and this year Russia blocked its renewal.

• The UN sanctions are imposed indefinitely. 

• During negotiations on the draft text vetoed on March 28, Russia and China unsuccessfully pushed for it to include a requirement that the sanctions regime be renewed annually. This was rejected by the US and others.

• The panel of independent experts has monitored those UN sanctions for the past 15 years, reporting twice a year to the Security Council and recommending action to improve implementation of the measures.

• Russia has drawn closer to North Korea in recent years, particularly since Russia was placed under Western sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine.

UN Security Council

• The United Nations Charter established six main organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council. It gives primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to the Security Council.

• All members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to Member States, only the Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter.

• The Security Council held its first session on January 17, 1946 at Church House, Westminster, London. Since its first meeting, the Security Council has taken permanent residence at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

• A representative of each of its members must be present at all times at UN headquarters so that the Security Council can meet at any time as the need arises.

• The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. 

• It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. 

• In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorise the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.

• The Council is composed of 15 members.

• Five permanent members are: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

• Ten non-permanent members are elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly.

The right to veto

• The creators of the United Nations Charter conceived that five countries — China, France, the USSR (which was succeeded in 1990 by the Russian Federation), the United Kingdom and the United States — because of their key roles in the establishment of the United Nations, would continue to play important roles in the maintenance of international peace and security.

• They were granted the special status of Permanent Member States at the Security Council, along with a special voting power known as the “right to veto”. 

• It was agreed by the drafters that if any one of the five permanent members cast a negative vote in the 15-member Security Council, the resolution or decision would not be approved.

• All five permanent members have exercised the right of veto at one time or another. 

• If a permanent member does not fully agree with a proposed resolution but does not wish to cast a veto, it may choose to abstain, thus allowing the resolution to be adopted if it obtains the required number of nine favourable votes.

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