posted on Wed 23 Mar 2016 11:18 PM
Mandate Renewal of DPRK Panel of Experts and Implementation of Resolution 2270

Tomorrow morning (24 March), the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1718 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Sanctions Committee. The proposed text, which was put in blue yesterday, follows closely the language of the previous mandate renewal in resolution 2207. The mandate is to be extended for 13 months and the Panel is expected to provide a midterm report to the Committee by 7 September 2016 and a final report no later than 1 February 2017. While the draft resolution indicates that the Panel’s mandate will apply with respect to measures imposed by resolution 2270, which added new, tougher sanctions measures, it does not modify the Panel’s mandate or expand the number of members as a result of the new measures.

The adoption of what is essentially a technical rollover of the mandate of the Panel was originally scheduled for 17 March, but was apparently delayed by China, which was keen to get the US’s assistance on a separate issue related to DPRK sanctions. It seems that China wanted the removal of four of the ships listed in one of the annexes to resolution 2270 as subject to the asset freeze. One of the four ships, the Jin Teng, had been detained on 3 March by the Philippines following the adoption of resolution 2270. On Monday, the Sanctions Committee removed the four ships from its annexes following assurances from China that the ships would no longer use crew from DPRK. It seems the four ships are registered in either Hong Kong or mainland China. The press statement (SC 12296) from the Committee said that the ships were removed as they are not economic resources operated or controlled by Ocean Maritime Management, which had been designated by the Committee on 28 July 2014, and therefore subject to sanctions. The difficulty surrounding tomorrow’s mandate renewal seems to indicate that although China and the US agreed on resolution 2270, significant differences persist.

The adoption tomorrow comes at a time when Council members are monitoring closely implementation of the new, tougher sanctions measures in resolution 2270 and their impact on the DPRK. Although it is still too early to assess whether the new measures will succeed in altering Pyongyang’s behavior, the regime has so far remained defiant and has continued its bellicose rhetoric. On 10 March, the DPRK fired two short-range missiles into the ocean, and on 15 March it said it would soon test a nuclear warhead and ballistic missiles capable of carrying such warheads. The missile launches were reported to the Committee by the Republic of Korea and Council members France, Japan, the UK and the US. On 18 March, the DPRK fired another two missiles. Council members held consultations on 18 March and issued a press statement expressing grave concern and condemning the launches. The statement also said that the Council was determined to ensure that resolution 2270 was implemented fully and would closely monitor the situation and ‘act as appropriate.’

In other developments, the chair of the Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Román Oyarzun (Spain), held an open briefing on 16 March for UN member states with the coordinator of the outgoing Panel of Experts, Hugh Griffiths. Oyarzun explained the new obligations imposed by resolution 2270 additional to the measures against the DPRK that were already in place, while Griffiths talked about the Panel’s work and how the resolution provides tools to better target the DPRK’s illicit activities documented in the Panel’s reports. Oyarzun emphasised the importance of implementing the resolution, reminding member states that national implementation reports are due by 2 June (i.e. 90 days after the adoption of the resolution) and that states are also obligated to report any incidents of non-compliance to the Council.

At the time of writing, the next meeting of the Sanctions Committee had not yet been scheduled, but the Committee seems to have a full programme ahead related to specific tasks required under resolution 2270. In particular, the resolution adjusted the measures related to the ban on transfers to and from the DPRK initially imposed by resolution 1718 through the designation of additional goods. It directed the Committee to follow-up on these designations and report to the Council within 15 days of the adoption of the resolution, i.e. 17 March. It seems that the initial draft of the resolution agreed between China and the US and presented to Council members on 25 February contained an annex with new goods that were to be added to the list of prohibited items, but that this was eventually removed at the request of one member.

Furthermore, the resolution directed the Committee to review and update the items contained in the document S/2006/853/Corr.1 no later than sixty days from the adoption of the resolution and on an annual basis thereafter. This document contains the list of chemical and biological items, materials, equipment, goods and technologies related to the DPRK’s other weapons of mass destruction programmes. It also directed the Committee to update the information contained in the list of sanctioned individuals and entities, including new aliases and front companies, within 45 days of the adoption of the resolution and every twelve months thereafter.

Finally, the resolution directed the Committee to respond effectively to any sanctions violations, including by designating additional individuals and entities as subject to sanctions, and to continue its efforts to assist states in implementing the measures, including by providing a comprehensive compilation of all the measures imposed by the Council against the DPRK in order to facilitate their implementation.