Coalition of 50 nations advocates for fresh UN oversight on North Korean sanctions

50 nations, including South Korea, the U.S., and Japan, advocate for independent oversight post-UN panel dissolution.

A coalition of 50 nations, including South Korea, the United States, and Japan, emphasized the necessity for an “objective, independent” mechanism to oversee the enforcement of sanctions on North Korea following the dissolution of a UN oversight panel.

The UN panel of experts tasked with monitoring sanctions against North Korea’s illicit weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs saw its mandate expire on Tuesday after Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution in late March that would have extended it for another year.

In a statement conveyed by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the 50 endorsing countries expressed concern over Russia’s veto, highlighting that it has deprived UN member states of crucial information and guidance to implement Security Council measures, thus undermining efforts to enforce sanctions.

During a press briefing at the UN headquarters in New York, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, alongside ambassadors from supporting member states including South Korean Ambassador to the UN Hwang Joon-kook, emphasized the necessity for all member states to adhere to relevant Security Council resolutions. With the panel’s mandate expired, she highlighted the importance of exploring avenues to maintain access to impartial, independent analysis to address the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) unlawful weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile advancements.

The statement underscored that Pyongyang’s weapons programs pose significant threats to international peace and security, endangering the global nonproliferation regime.

Established in 2009, the panel of experts has been responsible for monitoring North Korea’s evasion of sanctions, contributing to the development of its nuclear and missile weapons programs. Comprising eight members, the panel has supported the 1718 sanctions committee by analyzing data on sanctions violations shared by UN member states, identifying individuals and entities involved in violations, and offering recommendations for more effective implementation measures. It has also disseminated its findings through annual reports.

China, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, abstained from voting on March 28 to extend the panel’s mandate.

In response to inquiries regarding a potential substitute for the disbanded panel, Thomas-Greenfield stated that countries are exploring diverse options. She emphasized that the United States, in close collaboration with South Korea and Japan, is actively suggesting ideas for other member states to deliberate. The proposed alternative mechanism will probably be spearheaded by South Korea, the United States, and Japan, with backing from countries sharing similar positions, including Australia, New Zealand, and European nations.

Last month, Thomas-Greenfield traveled to Seoul and Tokyo to engage in discussions with officials from both countries on bolstering cooperation in addressing Pyongyang’s actions.