The DPRK’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations on Thursday circulated a bulletin reiterating a January-dated request that the international institution host a legal forum to analyze the legal basis of mounting sanctions against the North.
The bulletin, which was circulated to 12 U.S.-based recipients, criticized the United Nations Secretary General primarily for describing North Korea’s failed missile launch on Sunday as “troubling” and for calling upon Pyongyang to deescalate tensions with the U.S. and denuclearize.
Arguing that the “root cause of current aggravated situation of the Korean peninsula is none other than the United States,” the bulletin said the UN had failed to respond to DPRK requests to discuss U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises as well as a proposal to conduct a legal review of tightening sanctions designed to reverse Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile aspirations.
“Concerning to the “sanction resolutions”, the DPRK has requested the Secretary-General of the United Nations to clarify legal basis of those resolutions which question only the nuclear test and satellite and ballistic rocket launches of the DPRK, on the while closing its eyes to the nuclear test and satellite and ballistic rocket launches of the U.S. and other countries,” the bulletin said.
However, the DPRK’s January 2017 proposal to “summon an international forum of legal experts to clarify the legal basis of the resolutions,” had been ignored by both the UN Secretariat and the UN Security Council, the bulletin said.
The UN is not technically obliged to respond to the DPRK’s proposal.
The request, which comes amid growing tensions with Washington D.C., shows that the DPRK views sanctions against its nuclear and missile programs as discriminatory, said Tristan Webb, a senior analyst at NK Pro.
“They take a feeling of unfairness that other countries – India and South Korea lately – can test (missiles), but that they can’t,” he said.
“They then try to say that because the UN Charter doesn’t ban these types of measures per se – especially if they are for legitimate self-defense – that the UNSC is going outside its mandate in saying that the launches are a breach of the peace,” Webb said.
But Webb described this as a “poor argument because the UN Charter really gives blank discretion to the Security Council to decide what’s a threat to the peace and what’s not.”
Webb said the DPRK is, however, likely aware that its legal proposal stands a low chance of becoming reality.
“The DPRK is trying to portray itself as a victim to the non-aligned movement (NAM), by constructing arguments specifically tailored to the UN charter, showing that it is being picked on by bully boys at the Security Council, which is a perennial fear of the NAM,” he said.
“The hope being for DPRK that they might get a few more abstentions on UNSC or UN Human Rights Council resolutions,” he said.
North Korea has previously invested political capital in convincing African, SE Asian and Latin American countries to abstain from or vote against resolutions that condemn Pyongyang’s weapons programs and its human rights record.
Main picture: Wikimedia Commons
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