The Korean Peninsula is facing a high level of tension and instability, as North Korea has repeatedly violated the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and the military agreement it signed with South Korea in 2018 and has conducted a series of nuclear and missile tests that threaten the security of the region and the world.

In the face of escalating tensions, the international community is urging North Korea to comply with UNSC resolutions and cease its provocative actions. 

North Korea has defied the international community by launching a spy satellite with ballistic missile technology. The satellite, named Malligyong-1, was fired from the country’s western coast recently night after two failed attempts earlier this year.

This action violates the UNSC resolutions that ban North Korea from using such technology and worsens the already tense situation in the region. This severe matter could heighten the risk of conflict on the Korean Peninsula and challenge global security.

The UNSC has adopted nine major sanctions resolutions on North Korea since 2006. The resolutions condemn North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities, call on North Korea to cease its illicit activity, and urge the country to abandon its nuclear and missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.

The sanctions aim to cut off North Korea’s sources of revenue, trade and technology that enable its weapons development. The UNSC has also targeted North Korea’s human rights abuses and illicit activities. Despite these resolutions, North Korea continues to prioritise its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes, destabilising the region and even risking the well-being of its citizens. 

To maintain peace and stability, the South Korean government has launched the Audacious Initiative, which aims to achieve denuclearisation and peace on the Korean Peninsula by offering economic incentives and assistance to North Korea in exchange for its commitment to dismantle its nuclear programmes.

This initiative objectively engages with North Korea and offers a path for open dialogue, cooperation and benefits for North Korean development if the country recommits to a denuclearisation agenda.

However, Pyongyang has not responded positively to this gesture and has instead conducted several missile tests and nuclear activities in violation of the international sanctions, which further causes regional risk and destabilisation.

The human rights situation in North Korea is also cause for grave international concern. Reports indicate that North Korea is one of the most repressive countries in the world, where the government commits crimes against humanity, such as torture, enslavement, murder, and forced abortion, and severely restricts all fundamental freedoms such as freedom of expression, religion, assembly and movement, and bans any political opposition, independent media, civil society, and trade unions. The country has harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, including political prison camps and arbitrary arrests and detention. 

The costs of developing the advanced weapons systems in North Korea could instead be better redirected to promote human rights and support the fundamental human needs of nutrition, healthcare, and education for ordinary North Korean citizens. Accepting economic engagement and incentives with South Korea and regional partners promises greater long-term prosperity than an endless arms race in the region.

Thus, North Korea continuing its missile development and nuclear activities not only violates the UNSC resolutions and causes instability in the region but also diverts resources that could be used to improve the lives of its citizens.

It is obvious that continuing disobedience will have negative effects: the North Korean people will continue to suffer, and isolation and economic hardship will worsen. Pyongyang gravely needs visionary leadership because the fate and well-being of 25 million North Koreans are at stake. 

A shift toward compliance with UNSC resolutions, a cessation of provocations and a genuine commitment to open dialogue could signal the start of a more constructive path that prioritises its citizens’ well-being while contributing to regional peace and stability.

The international community should take a more coordinated and comprehensive approach to enforcing sanctions and resolutions in order to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programmes and respect its citizens’ rights and dignity. 

So Channtha is a lecturer of politics and international relations at the University of Cambodia (UC). 

All views expressed in this article are solely his own.