Walls and Ladders: The Latest UN Report on DPRK Sanctions

March 28, 2018
Andrea Berger and Shea Cotton

The following is an excerpt from War on the Rocks

In a recent conversation about the state of implementation of UN sanctions on North Korea, one Southeast Asian official lamented, “We are a year’s worth of UN resolutions behind.” It was no ordinary year, either. In 2017, the United Nations Security Council was a veritable conveyor belt of sanctions on North Korea, propelled by the U.S. government’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Four new resolutions significantly expanded the scope of sanctions to include major restrictions on North Korean export revenue streams, maritime commerce, and access to the international financial system.

Since its establishment in 2009, the UN Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1874 has played a crucial role in monitoring the implementation of these measures. As the sanctions mushroomed, the panel’s work has become more prominent and more challenging, with a vast array of provisions to monitor, from arms embargoes to bans on North Korean mollusks.

The panel’s new report about developments in 2017 offers a snapshot of where sanctions are creating costs for North Korea, and where they are not. For the most part, Pyongyang’s evasion effort seems to be ably keeping pace with the new resolutions, helped by its resilient business relationships around the world and savvy evasion tactics. When it comes to some of the newer measures like bans on joint ventures, however, it is simply too early to tell how disruptive they will be for North Korea’s illicit activities.

Continue reading at War on the Rocks

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