9591st Meeting (AM)

Security Council Fails to Extend Mandate for Expert Panel Assisting Sanctions Committee on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Text Rejected on Account of Veto Cast by Russian Federation

The Security Council today failed to adopt a resolution that would have extended until 30 April 2025 the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the Sanctions Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006) on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea due to a veto cast by the Russian Federation — a permanent member of the Council — while numerous speakers underscored that Moscow’s veto fuels suspicion and weakens the global non-proliferation architecture.

If adopted, the resolution — presented by the United States — would have further decided that this mandate shall also apply with respect to the measures imposed in resolutions 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), 2371 (2017), 2375 (2017), 2397 (2017) and 2664 (2022).

By other terms, it would have requested the Panel to submit its confidential midterm report no later than 23 August 2024 and its final report no later than 14 February 2025.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of the United States said that, for 14 years, the 15-member organ had come together unanimously to renew the mandate of the Committee’s Panel of Experts, which conducts credible, fact-based, independent investigations of Pyongyang’s unlawful weapons programmes and sanctions evasion efforts.  Over the past year, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has accelerated its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes, in violation of multiple Council resolutions.  Just last week, it launched a new round of ballistic missiles, he observed, stressing:  “These provocations are a direct threat to the non-proliferation regime and the peace and security of all Member States.”  Washington, D.C.’s approach to this mandate renewal has been inclusive and transparent:  “We negotiated in good faith for weeks to seek compromise and consensus among all Council members […] we did not rush to a vote; rather, we undertook a careful, methodological approach,” he added.

The representative of the Russian Federation, stating that the situation on and around the Korean Peninsula has “changed fundamentally” in recent years, said that the sanctions regime the Council adopted through resolution 1718 (2006) is “losing its relevance” and is “detached from reality”. Further, the unprecedented policy of a coalition of Western countries — led by the United States — to strangle Pyongyang calls into question the possibility of resolving future problems on the Peninsula.  Underscoring that this “dangerous turn of events” affects the Russian Federation’s national security, he added that recent years have made clear that sanctions have neither achieved the international community’s stated aims nor normalized the situation on the Peninsula.  They have also not encouraged dialogue and yet impose a heavy burden on the population of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Noting that it is only with respect to that country that open-ended sanctions have been introduced and applied — with no provisions to alter the restrictions imposed — he stressed that it is “high time” for the Council to update the sanctions regime.  The Panel of Experts “is now a weapon”, he said, stating that its work increasingly plays into the West’s hands by printing biased information, analysing newspaper headlines and assessing poor-quality photos.  The Panel focuses on “trivial matters that are not commensurate with the problems facing the Peninsula”, he emphasized.  Recalling that his delegation has urged the Council to hold an open, honest review of its sanctions against Pyongyang and adapt its measures to “rapidly changing circumstances”, he said that these ideas are not present in today’s draft.  He added that his delegation does not see “any added value” in the Panel’s work and cannot support the United States’ draft.

The representative of the Republic of Korea highlighted the Panel of Experts’ role in guiding the Member States through “the complex web” of Pyongyang’s sanctions regime and “putting differences arising from geopolitical tensions behind”.  Given that country’s continued provocations, advancement of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and sophisticated sanctions evasion, he warned that the “failure to adopt this resolution will result in the abolishment of the Panel” — something that the Council’s permanent members should avoid by all means.  “Let us stand united for the sake of nuclear non-proliferation and international peace and security,” he concluded.

By a vote of 13 in favour to 1 against (Russian Federation), with 1 abstention (China), the Council rejected the draft, owing to the negative vote cast by a permanent member.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of the United States expressed deep disappointment over the outcome of today’s vote, which was “an attempt by one Council member to silence an independent objective investigation into [Pyongyang’s] Security Council violations”.  “Why would any Council member not vote in support of this mandate renewal and break the 14 years of unanimous adoption?” he asked, adding:  “The answer is clear; the Panel began reporting in the last year on Russia’s blatant violations of Security Council resolutions in addition to [Pyongyang’s] persistent sanctions evasion efforts within Russia’s jurisdiction.”

Stressing that Moscow “owns this failure”, he warned that today’s vote will only embolden the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to act with further impunity as it jeopardizes global security through the development of long-large ballistic missiles and sanctions evasion efforts.  And China, with its abstention, once again showed the Council where it stands on curbing Pyongyang’s proliferation.  Moscow has done more today than obstruct the work of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006), it has undermined the prospect of a peaceful diplomatic resolution of one of the world’s most dangerous nuclear proliferation issues.  And even though it silenced the Panel of Experts today, “[it] will never silence those of us who stand in support of the global non-proliferation regime,” he asserted.

The representative of the Russian Federation, who voted against, countered that today’s statements by Western States show that members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have “dropped their masks and clearly demonstrated why they really want to extend the mandate of the 1718 Committee Panel of Experts — to use it to channel unfounded insinuations against the Russian Federation”.  He also said that the delegation of the United States — which has used its veto four times in the last five months to allow Israel to kill and starve Palestinian civilians and has declared in the Chamber that the organ’s decisions are “non-binding” — “does not have the right to give lessons to others”.

The speaker for China, who abstained, observed that over the past decade, the Council has adopted more resolutions to strengthen the sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, resulting in extremely stringent sanctions mechanisms.  However, “sanctions are not an end in itself”; instead, they should serve the denuclearization of the Peninsula and the final political settlement of the political issue.  The harsh sanctions against Pyongyang have not led to achieving the above-mentioned goals; rather, they have exacerbated tensions and confrontation, with a serious negative impact on the humanitarian situation on the ground.  The original intention of China and the Russian Federation in jointly introducing the draft resolution is to activate the reversal clause and adjust the sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the humanitarian and livelihood field.  “Sanctions should not be set in stone or be indefinite,” he stressed, calling on all parties to positively consider the Russian Federation’s draft resolution.

Numerous Council members — among them, the representatives of Guyana, Slovenia, Ecuador and Sierra Leone — expressed regret over today’s veto, noting that it deprives the organ of a key tool to ensure the implementation of its resolutions and weakens the international non-proliferation architecture.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said that the Panel of Experts — one of the Council’s most vibrant and significant subsidiary bodies — “has been taken hostage by one permanent member [which] puts its blind self-centredness over the Council’s collective responsibility for maintaining international peace and security”.  Noting the Russian Federation’s proposal to include a one-year sunset clause on the entire sanctions’ regime tied to the renewal of the Panel’s mandate, he pointed out that Moscow “employed an all-too-familiar and obvious tactic by insisting on completely unacceptable conditions without any room for compromise”. At this moment, “Russia seems to be more interested in embracing or encouraging the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] for its provision of munitions and ballistic missiles for the conduct of its war in Ukraine at the expense of the nuclear-non-proliferation regime and the proper functioning of the Security Council,” he asserted, adding:  “This is almost comparable to destroying a CCTV to avoid being caught red-handed.”

“Who can seriously doubt the need to have an independent Panel of Experts allowing us to document the violations of this Council’s resolutions?” asked France’s delegate, voicing concern over Pyongyang’s recent ballistic-missile tests, launch of a military satellite into orbit and support of Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine.

“This veto undermines the Panel’s work, the integrity of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and this Council’s credibility in upholding resolutions,” echoed his counterpart from the United Kingdom, dismissing the claims of ignored requests for the review of the text.  Moscow vetoed the resolution “to gain the freedom to evade and breach sanctions in pursuit of weapons to be used against Ukraine”, she asserted.

Switzerland’s delegate added that Moscow’s arguments are not convincing and its veto “only fuels suspicion” regarding violations of sanctions measures investigated by the Committee.  While the Committee’s task is hampered, its mandate remains intact, she stressed, reiterating that “arms shipments from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are a flagrant violation of international law.”

“Nobody — except for proliferators — would benefit from weakening the global non-proliferation regime,” underscored the representative of Japan, Council President for March, speaking in his national capacity.  “It is irresponsible and shameful” that Moscow has been violating relevant resolutions by procuring military equipment and munitions from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for use in its unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.  He noted that the voices of the wider membership will be heard during the General Assembly meeting that will be convened in response to today’s veto.

The speaker for Malta pointed out that today’s text “represented a set of significant compromises”:  it accommodated requests to link mandate renewal to broader discussions on sanctions and dialogue on the file, as well as made the midterm report confidential.  Yet, despite these significant changes — and even though most Council members supported a technical rollover — this compromise was vetoed by the Russian Federation.  Stressing that any discussion on sanctions architecture should be kept separate from the Panel’s mandate renewal, she underscored:  “Panels of Experts are independent and impartial, and their mandates ought to be treated this way.”  In the absence of the Panel’s reports, Pyongyang’s relentless evasion of sanctions will continue to grow unchecked.  “This is a sad disservice to regional and international peace and security,” she observed.

For his part, Algeria’s delegate urged members to find common ground and reach a consensus on renewing the Panel of Experts’ mandate, adding:  “Unity within the Security Council is paramount in confronting global peace and security challenges.”

At the outset of the meeting, a procedural vote was requested by the Russian Federation on the meeting's provisional agenda.  Having received the requisite number of votes in favour, the Council adopted the agenda and proceeded with the meeting.

For information media. Not an official record.