North Korea seeks again legal forum to clarify UN sanctions

AP News
Posted: Feb 12, 2018 3:03 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — North Korea again asked U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday to organize an international forum of legal experts to clarify the legality of increasingly tough Security Council sanctions, which it says are erasing its people's "right of existence."

A press statement from North Korea's U.N. Mission said the intensified sanctions resolutions spurred by the United States and its followers are imposing a "blockade" and violate the country's sovereignty and international law.

The mission accused the Security Council of "uncivilized behavior" by trying to bring North Korean society back "to the old history of medium darkness," and "by totally denying the rights of existence and development of our people and destroying whole civilized culture."

North Korea first asked the U.N. Secretariat, which Guterres heads, to organize a legal forum a year ago and it says it sent five letters to the secretary-general and met with him and the U.N. political and legal chiefs.

But the mission said the request was rejected on grounds that the Security Council is authorized by the U.N. Charter to determine what constitutes a threat to international peace and security.

The council has determined that North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, which have become increasingly sophisticated, constitute such a threat. In response, it has imposed increasingly harsh sanctions that now bar over 90 percent of the country's exports and most imports.

But U.N. experts monitoring sanctions said in a recent report that North Korea is flouting U.N. sanctions on oil and gas, engaging in prohibited ballistic missile cooperation with Syria and Myanmar, and illegally exporting commodities that brought in nearly $200 million in just nine months last year. Pyongyang is also still able to access the global financial system through "deceptive practices combined with critical deficiencies in the implementation of financial sanctions," they said.

The mission's statement on Monday, accusing the U.S. and the Security Council of "barbarous state-sponsored terrorism," says an international forum including "all government and non-government-level lawyers and international legal organizations" could be the right place to clarify the legality of the sanctions resolutions.

University Corruption
Walter E. Williams

It reiterates four points for legal experts to consider:

—Do U.N. resolutions prohibiting North Korea's satellite launches conform with international law, which stipulates "that the peaceful use of outer space is an inalienable sovereignty of states?"

—Are sanctions resolutions prohibiting North Korea's nuclear tests legal when there is not yet an international law totally banning nuclear test?

—Do veto-wielding permanent members of the council who prevent a nuclear test ban treaty from coming into force "have any moral justification to prohibit the tests of other countries?"

—Is the Security Council imposing a "double-standard" by imposing sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear tests and satellite launches "without taking issue with such tests and launches by other countries?"

North Korea noted that the U.N. Charter recognizes "the principles of sovereign equality and the right to self-defense of countries."