The UN Security council has adopted a new resolution against North Korea in March 2016 after another nuclear test and satellite launch earlier this year. This is the country that is famous for kidnapping movie stars, establishing full control over its people, and despite sanctions further developing its nuclear and ballistic missile program. This is the fifth major resolution  since 2006 in which the call was formulated to dismantle the North Korean nuclear program in a “complete, verifiable and irreversible manner”.

Previous sanctions

In 2006 resolution 1718 was passed by the UN Security council to impose several bans on imports and exports, travel bans and assets freeze on persons, goods or services that are related to the country’s nuclear program.  Exceptions were allowed in case it was for humanitarian reasons.

The list of bans were extended in 2009 with resolution 1874, after North Korea failed to comply with the demands to stop their nuclear weapons program. Moreover, member states were encouraged to inspect and destroy any North Korea cargo. Moreover, the resolution called for North Korea to resume the Six Party talks with South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US as well as rejoin the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

After a third nuclear test of North Korea, resolution 2094 was adopted in 2013. It further increased the difficulty of continuing North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program. The focus was increased on restricting access to finances for the North Korean regime.Moreover, the luxury goods banned for trade with North Korea were extended to jewelry, yachts, luxury and racing cars.

New sanction 2016: resolution 2270

The new resolution 2270, further expanded the list of banned materials to trade with North Korea including aviation fuel and light weapons. Moreover, it limits North Korea’s ability to conduct banking abroad. It is blocking North Korean banks from opening offices abroad and international banks from operating in North Korea. Moreover, it calls for mandatory searched by member states and no registration or leasing of vessels and airplanes by North Korean companies.

Pyongyang’s reaction & enforcement of the sanctions

As a reaction to the increased sanctions against Pyongyang fired six short range missiles into the sea. This was aimed clearly at provoking the UN and its members, who are trying for North Korea to abandon its missile program. But it would be to easy to say that the sanctions have no influence.

On 5 March The Philippines announced that it has seized a North Korean ship following the tightened UN sanctions. The “Jone Teng“ is operated by the North Korean firm Ocean Maritime Management, which is subject to the sanctions and has been blacklisted by the UN Security Council in 2014 when it was found smuggling Cuban weapons near the Panama Canal.  The Philippine government will impound the ship and deport the crew.

Thus, we see the first direct impacts of the newly implemented UN sanctions. Nevertheless, we should not forget the carrot in addition to the stick. If no soft power approach is used, we risk isolating North Korea, reducing the chance of reform from within (Read more on our suggested double strategy). The international community should not go the easy way of condemning North Korea and alienating the state any further but use its points of contact to engage with the country, even if there are only limited possibilities. This is the only way to be effective in curbing the nuclear development program and promoting change in North Korea.