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Harsh humanitarian effect of sanctions on North Korea – but they could be ineffective anyway

Tighter sanctions on North Korea could have a harsh humanitarian impact The Conversation Donald Trump has announced even more sanctions on North Korea, this time targeting anyone who does business there. His move comes hot on the heels of UN Security Council Resolution 2375, passed in response to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, which marks a new stage in the world’s attempts to squeeze the Pyongyang government.

The resolution takes what was already a tough sanctions regime focused on nuclear and military-related trade and tries to exert broader pressure on the country’s economy, embargoing North Korean textile exports, capping the dispatch of additional North Korean workers overseas, and limiting exports of refined petroleum and crude oil to North Korea.

The US mission to the UN claimed that these measures amount to the “strongest sanctions ever”. But the measures contained within sit at odds with a claim made in the resolution’s article 26, namely that the measures “are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for the civilian population of the DPRK”………

Hit hard

Restricting North Korean energy imports, for one, cannot but have an impact on the North Korean people themselves. A recent report by the Nautilius Institute argues that the military is likely to have access to considerable stockpiles of oil, even as ordinary North Korean citizens do not.

Similarly, the textile sector is a significant provider of jobs: the most recent North Korean census in 2008 showed that nearly 400,000 workers were employed in the textile manufacturing sector – and that was before the rapid growth of Chinese outsourcing to the North……….

Tipping the balance

Because North Korea is the world’s lowest-spending nuclear state, the level of economic stress needed to halt funding to the country’s nuclear weapons programme probably cannot be applied without severe human costs. There is also no guarantee that even extreme levels of hardship brought about by effective sanctions will produce a popular North Korean revolution. During the mass starvation of the 1990s, for example, there were no recorded incidents of significant civil unrest and the regime seemed resilient……..

Tipping the balance

Because North Korea is the world’s lowest-spending nuclear state, the level of economic stress needed to halt funding to the country’s nuclear weapons programme probably cannot be applied without severe human costs. There is also no guarantee that even extreme levels of hardship brought about by effective sanctions will produce a popular North Korean revolution. During the mass starvation of the 1990s, for example, there were no recorded incidents of significant civil unrest and the regime seemed resilient…….

To be sure, not all sanctions are ill-advised. But as the scope of multilateral sanctions is extended to target everyday North Koreans’ livelihoods, it’s crucial to ask whether this approach is likely to succeed. Given just how resilient the North Korean regime has so far been in the face of intense international pressure, the chances seem slim. https://theconversation.com/tighter-sanctions-on-north-korea-could-have-a-harsh-humanitarian-impact-84299

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September 23, 2017 - Posted by | North Korea, politics international

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