The Council is made up of 15 nations: five are permanent members and the remaining 10 seats rotate every 2 years among the nations in the UN. The 5 permanent members are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Each of these nations has “veto power,” which means that whenever any one of these countries votes “no” on a resolution, that resolution automatically fails. In order for a resolution to pass, all the permanent members must vote “yes.”
The Security Council may deal with international conflict in many ways. When fighting breaks out, the Council’s first goal is usually to call for a ceasefire, or an end to violence. It may also send peacekeeping forces to protect citizens and ensure that any UN decisions are carried out. The Security Council can use more forceful measures too, such as economic sanctions, which prevent a country from receiving money or trade. In the most serious situations, the Security Council can order the use of military force.
- The Situation in North Korea
- The Situation in Syria
- Achieving Peace and Stability in Somalia
The Situation in North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly called North Korea, is widely considered a threat to stability in Asia. The government has openly admitted to selling missile technology in defiance of international law and pursuing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs. In 2006, North Korea tested a small nuclear weapon, showing its status as a nuclear power, and straining its already bad diplomatic relationship with the rest of the world.
The international community believes that North Korea’s nuclear weapons are a danger to Asia and the rest of the world. North Korea insists the weapons are intended for defense only. How the international community responds to the government of North Korea will impact the security of the region and the world.
Since 1990, North Korea has been very dependant on international aid for food, since its own economy, as well as its agriculture industry, is very weak. However, this has not stopped the government’s attempts to try and purchase nuclear technology from other countries. North Korea’s weapons programs have continued in earnest.
In spite of a decade of international attempts to negotiate with North Korea to prevent it from proliferating ballistic missiles, North Korea admitted in 1998 to selling missiles to countries considered unstable by the international community. Experts suspect buyers include Iran and Syria. In 2002, United States President George W. Bush listed North Korea as a member of “the axis of evil,” a group of nations accused of supporting terrorist activities.
Many nations including the United States, label North Korea a “criminal regime” or a “terrorist state,” and refuse to maintain diplomatic relations with them. Other countries, such as China and Russia maintain diplomatic ties with the country. South Korea, considered most directly at risk from attack by North Korea, is also pursuing closer political ties with the country because of historical and cultural connections between their people. North Korea considers the U.S., S. Korea, and Japan to be imminent threats to its safety.
During the 1980s, the government of North Korea denied that it was developing nuclearweapons. It was a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), an agreement under which countries promised not to make or buy nuclear weapons. Although officials denied they were developing nuclear weapons, North Korea did have nuclear power plants. Under the NPT, countries with nuclear power plants must accept safeguard agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a United Nations agency. These agreements allow IAEA personnel to inspect countries’ nuclear power plants for safety and ensure they are not developing nuclear weapons. North Korea allowed IAEA inspectors into the country in 1992, but would not allow them access to certain sites. Although IAEA protested, the government would not cooperate with further investigations.
The United States persuaded the North Korean government not to develop nuclear weapons by offering them incentives, or promises of economic and humanitarian aid. The US agreed to provide oil supplies and to help North Korea build more powerful, but safer nuclear power plants. South Korea and Japan also agreed to provide energy resources. In return, the government of North Korea agreed not to develop nuclear weapons and to let IAEA inspectors investigate. These promises became known as the 1994 Agreed Framework. To carry out the Agreed Framework, the US, South Korea and Japan created the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO). This organization arranged the transport of food aid and oil, implemented energy projects in North Korea, and helped maintain peace and stability in the region. In the years following the creation of the Agreed Framework, North Korea received food and oil through KEDO, but the government complained that KEDO was purposefully delaying the construction of nuclear power plants.
By 2002, the Agreed Framework started to break down. North Korea revealed it was running a uranium-enrichment program, needed for the development of nuclear weapons. KEDO responded by stopping heavy-oil shipments. North Korea then announced that it would reopen nuclear facilities that it had closed under the Agreed Framework.
North Korea withdrew from the NPT in 2003, making it the first (and, so far, only) signatory to ever withdraw from the historic treaty. In response, the US began fortifying armed force installations and bases near North in South Korea and elsewhere in the region. North Korea saw this move as a direct threat, and warned it would retaliate if attacked. By mid-2003, the Agreed Framework had broken down completely.
Past International Action:
In 2003, the IAEA adopted several resolutions calling for North Korea to comply with international standards. When North Korea continued to ignore those resolutions, IAEA referred the situation to the UN Security Council.
The North Korean government demanded to negotiate directly with the United States government, which the US refused. Instead, the governments of South Korea, North Korea and the United States, along with Russia, China and Japan, met several times to discuss an end to North Korea’s nuclear program. These meetings—known as the Six Party Talks—were repeated over three years without resolution, primarily because of disagreements between the United States and North Korean governments.
In July of 2005, North Korea tested seven missiles over the Sea of Japan. The United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia immediately condemned the test as an act of provocation and South Korea suspended food aid in protest. The Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1695 condemning the tests and demanding that North Korea suspend all missile launches. North Korea is now the ninth nation known to possess nuclear weapons.
The international community reacted with shock and outrage. The Security Council againconvened and unanimously issued a resolution condemning North Korea’s actions. Resolution 1718 also imposed sanctions on North Korea, preventing the country from buying, selling or receiving a range of goods from other nations, and imposing an asset freeze and travel ban on officials related to the nuclear weapons program.
In July 2007, North Korea opened its borders for IAEA inspectors. Soon after, North Korea and South Korea signed an 8-point peace agreement on issues of permanent peace, economic cooperation and renewed travel between the countries.. This was the second step of what was outlined in the Six-Party Talks in February 2007, and was an indication of thawing of relations between North Korea and the countries involved in the Six Party Talks.
On October 11, 2008, the US removed North Korea from its list of states that sponsor terrorism. In January 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, visited North Korea and offered to normalize economic ties if they agreed to abandon their nuclear program. Days later, however, North Korea confirmed that they were preparing to test the launch of a ballistic missile believed to be capable of reaching the United States, calling it a ‘scientific satellite’.
Questions to consider when formulating a resolution:
- How should North Korea be persuaded to end its nuclear program? What methods ofpersuasion should be used?
- Should food aid continue in North Korea? What can be done to help North Korea to become self-sustaining and encourage it to invest in its own legitimate economy and agriculture industry?
- Under what circumstances should force be used to resolve this conflict?
- What type of action regarding North Korea does your country support?
- Does your country have a history of trade or economic relationships with North Korea?
- Has your country provided aid, or supported the provision of aid, to North Korea? Has your country issued sanctions against North Korea?
- What has the Security Council previously done to deal with the situation, what are they currently doing, and has your country supported their actions?
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT):
The United Nations Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (“Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty” or “NPT” for short), adopted in 1970. The NPT has three main points. First, the five countries with nuclear weapons in 1970—China, France, the Soviet Union (today the Russian Federation), the United Kingdom and the United States—would not give nuclear weapons or technology to other countries. Second, non-nuclear-weapons-possessing countries would not develop or obtain weapons. Third, all countries would discuss disarmament and create “a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
The Situation in Syria
Achieving Peace and Stability in Somalia