China, Russia undermine U.N. with outrageous act

China and Russia have effectively abandoned their responsibilities as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, an organ responsible for world peace. The dysfunction and impotence of the council is a loss for the entire international community.

The UNSC voted on a draft resolution to strengthen sanctions against North Korea. Thirteen of the 15 council members voted in favor of the resolution, but it did not pass after China and Russia exercised their veto. This is the first time the veto has been used for a Security Council resolution on North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.

This can be said to be symbolic of the current state of affairs in which Beijing-Moscow cooperation is deepening in all areas after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The U.S.-drafted resolution included lowering the cap on oil exports to North Korea.

China and Russia were among the UNSC members who unanimously adopted a sanctions resolution in 2017 that stipulated a lower cap would be imposed on North Korea if it conducts another nuclear test or test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile.

North Korea has repeatedly launched ICBMs since the beginning of this year. The Security Council’s strengthening of sanctions is an obvious step, but this time it has been thwarted by China and Russia’s outrageous act.

Security Council resolutions themselves prohibit the launch of ballistic missiles. China and Russia using their veto is a trampling on past resolutions that they have endorsed, undermining the authority of the Security Council.

In remarks after the vote, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations said of the tensions on the Korean Peninsula that the current situation exists due to “flip-flop United States policies,” putting the blame on the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. The ambassador also expressed opposition to the U.S. increase in cooperation with its allies to protect order in the Indo-Pacific region.

This is mere sophistry. North Korea has ignored U.S. calls for dialogue and is accelerating its nuclear and missile development. Beijing should acknowledge the reality that Pyongyang has become wrongly confident by China’s failure to strictly implement embargoes and other sanctions and its opposition to tougher sanctions.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations delivered a joint statement on behalf of Japan, the United States and South Korea emphasizing that the North Korean threat is destabilizing the region and undermining the global nonproliferation regime as well.

Japan, the United States and South Korea, in cooperation with European and other countries, need to develop a deterrence system against North Korea and ensure that sanctions are enforced.

In April, the U.N. General Assembly decided on a mechanism to require permanent members of the UNSC to give an explanation at the General Assembly when they use the veto. For the first time, China and Russia will be asked to provide an explanation in line with this mandate.

It remains to be seen whether requiring accountability will lead to a halt to the abuse of the veto power, but efforts to prevent the United Nations from losing significance must continue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 29, 2022)