North Korea Will Not Be the End of the Security Council

Japan’s vice minister for foreign affairs is going a little over the top here:

“If we don’t do adequate and swift action for these serious violations, the existence of the Security Council as a meaningful institution will become doubtful,” Ito said. “The adequate reaction is to adopt a resolution,” he said.

“This is a serious problem for regional peace and security. And also this is a big test for the United Nations Security Council.”

North Korea violated a Security Council resolution, so yes, this is a serious issue for the Security Council. But a North Korean missile clearly won’t be blowing up UN headquarters anytime soon. So what is the minister, Shintaro Ito, really upset about? That the United States and Japan differ on whether companies to be sanctioned for abetting North Korea’s attempted launch should be named before or after a resolution. Really? The Security Council will effectively disintegrate over that?

More substantively — but not much — there is the question of whether the Council will issue a “resolution” or a “presidential statement” objecting to the launch. The latter is conventionally described as “weaker,” though, as Tim Fernholz points out, the likes of Charles Krauthammer would likely just deride any such resolution as “weak” anyway.  Moreover, this seems like rather an overhyped kerfuffle over a missile that completely flubbed in its objectives.

The reality here is that China and Russia don’t want to come out too harsh on North Korea. That is a problem, but it is not a reason to scrap the Security Council.

(image of Shintaro Ito)