Recently North Korea conducted the spy satellite launch. It was not the first time that North Korea conducted such launch. However, since 2016 the recent one was North Korea’s first spy satellite launch. Upon its failure, the sister of Kim Jong Un said that North Korea would conduct more spy satellite launches soon. Can North Korea conduct such activities posing a threat to international peace and stability and spoiling the harmony and friendship when it is a member of the United Nations?
Let me share with you some information about the recent launch that was conducted by North Korea. According to Al Jazeera (30 May 2023, updated: 31 May 2023 10:16 AM (GMT) “North Korea’s attempt to launch its first military spy satellite has ended in failure after the rocket “crashed into the sea” and Seoul recovered some of the debris, state media said. The launch, on the first day of a 12-day window it had announced to put the satellite into orbit, took place early on Wednesday, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced. “The ‘Cheollima-1’ crashed into the West Sea of Korea as it lost momentum due to abnormal start-up of the two-stage engine after one step separation while flying normally,” North Korea’s KCNA announced shortly after South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) had said the projectile had disappeared from radar. The JCS earlier said it had detected the launch at about 6:29am (21:29 GMT on Tuesday), prompting alerts in Seoul and Japan, which were later lifted. The flight was the nuclear-armed state’s sixth satellite launch attempt and the first since 2016. It was supposed to put North Korea’s first spy satellite in orbit”.
After the North Korea’s attempt to send its first military spy satellite into orbit ended in failure, North Korea’s Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, has promised more satellite launches - this was published by Al Jazeera on 1 June 2023.
It should be noted that the use of ballistic missile technology has already been banned under the UN Security Council resolutions. And the allegation is that North Korea has used such technology in such spy satellite activities. If true, it necessarily means that North Korea is in violation of those relevant UN resolutions.
Let me share with you the relevant UN resolutions that banned the use of ballistic missile technology. Resolution 2087 (2013) that was adopted by the Security Council at its 6904th meeting, on 22 January 2013 provides that “1. Condemns the DPRK’s launch of 12 December 2012, which used ballistic missile technology and was in violation of resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009); 2. Demands that the DPRK not proceed with any further launches using ballistic missile technology, and comply with resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009) by suspending all activities related to its ballistic missile program and in this context re-establish its pre-existing commitments to a moratorium on missile launches; 3. Demands that the DPRK immediately comply fully with its obligations under resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), including that it: abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner; immediately cease all related activities; and not conduct any further launches that use ballistic missile technology, nuclear test or any further provocation”.
Resolution 2094 (2013) that was adopted by the Security Council at its 6932nd meeting, on 7 March 2013 also provides that “2. Decides that the DPRK shall not conduct any further launches that use ballistic missile technology, nuclear tests or any other provocation”.
It must me noted that UN sanctions resolutions are measures of UN Security Council under article 41 of the UN Charter to address the activities that pose a threat to international peace and security. And these sanctions resolutions have legal binding force on the member states including North Korea.
I would like to share with you the statements of UN Secretary General released on 30 May 2023, and according to the statements “The Secretary-General strongly condemns the military satellite launch conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Any launch using ballistic missile technology is contrary to the relevant Security Council resolutions. The Secretary-General reiterates his call on the DPRK to cease such acts and to swiftly resume dialogue to achieve the goal of sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”.
North Korea has always shown its little attention and interests on basic needs and rights of its people. According to 38 North (January 19, 2023) “North Korea is dealing with a complex humanitarian emergency that has food insecurity at its core. As of August 2022, both quantity and price data point to a deteriorating situation, made worse by the regime’s choice to self-isolate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Food availability has likely fallen below the bare minimum with regard to human needs, and on one metric, is at its worst since the country’s famine in the 1990s. The Kim regime has insisted on maintaining a failed economic model and remains committed to its nuclear program. For these reasons, the amount of diplomatic leverage conferred by aid may be minimal. Resolving North Korea’s chronic food insecurity would require, among other things, strengthening property rights, opening and revitalizing the industrial and service sectors of the economy, and embracing an export-oriented model. The regime, which fears internal competition and its own demise, has so far proved itself unwilling to pursue such reforms”.
Finally, I would like to draw a conclusion saying that North Korea’s recent spy satellite activities and the promises of conducting more such activities pose a threat to international peace and stability. These activities are surely spoiling the friendship and harmony. And those might be in violation of the resolutions mentioned above. Prioritizing the basic needs of its people North Korea should get rid of such spy satellite launches.
The writer is a Barrister-at-Law, a Human Rights Activist and an Advocate at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh