[VIEWPOINT]The resolution might just be the startA country needs approval from international society in order to intervene in the matters of a third country without violating international law.
The most desirable way is to get a resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council. The fact that the Security Council has adopted a resolution on North Korea can be considered, in international society, firm legal ground for intervention into North Korea’s nuclear and missile problem.
The first UN Security Council resolutions related to the Korean Peninsula provided justification for UN intervention in the Korean War right after the war broke out in 1950.
At that time, the Security Council adopted three resolutions on North Korea, increasing the intensity gradually. The first one, adopted June 26, was a demand that North Korea stop military action and withdraw to the north of the 38th parallel. When North Korea refused to abide, the Security Council adopted a new resolution three days later.
The second resolution included recommendations to UN member states to provide military support to South Korea to defeat North Korea, noting that it had refused the UN demand to withdraw to the north.
On July 7, the third resolution, which formally established the United Nations forces, was adopted. The United Nations did not stop at adopting one resolution, but intensified the level of intervention according to the development of the situation and the compliance of related countries.
If North Korea does not abide by the resolution this time, a new resolution, which will impose sanctions or other international measures according to the North’s attitude, will be presented at the Security Council.
If North Korea fires missiles again or engages in other belligerent activities, it is highly likely the United States and Japan will try to adopt a new resolution based on Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.
In that case, China and Russia will find it difficult to exercise veto power. The additional resolution is not only for the purpose of restraining North Korea from engaging in dangerous activities such as promoting a nuclear weapons development program and the development of missiles, but also a punitive measure against the violation of the Security Council resolution, that is, ignoring the authority of the United Nations.
We can learn this from the attitude of the Soviet Union representative at the United Nations, when the three resolutions on North Korea were adopted just after the Korean War broke out. The Soviet Union was, at that time, boycotting the UN meetings because the country objected to Taiwan’s representation of China at the United Nations.
Since the Soviet representative was in New York, however, he could have participated in the Security Council meeting and exercised veto power. But it was said that the Soviet envoy didn’t participate in the council meeting because the Soviet Union didn’t want to defend North Korea’s invasion.
Therefore, when a situation is created in which a new resolution is adopted as a follow-up measure, it is highly likely that China and Russia will at least abstain or be absent from the voting, even if they do not vote in favor of the resolution.
There are diverse interpretations on the current resolution. But one thing clear in international society is that the logic of a strong power is predominant.
Unlike domestic law, international law has no systematic device for punishment in case of violations, although it gives authoritative legal interpretations.
In many cases, therefore, a powerful country’s interpretation of the UN resolution becomes the right answer.
On Oct. 1, 1950, the UN forces moved up to the 38th parallel. The allies of the United States adopted a resolution at the UN General Assembly, which said, “The United Nations will take all necessary measures for unification of the Korean Peninsula.”
After the adoption of the resolution, the UN forces started to advance to the north, interpreting that “all necessary measures for unification” included military advancement to the north.
Like this, the UN resolution can be interpreted in diverse ways according to the national interest of the big powers.
There can be differences, not unlike the one in the wording between “decided” and “demand” as in the resolution adopted this time, but the interpretation of the resolution itself depends on how much North Korea cooperates with the intention of the United Nations and how the international situation surrounding the peninsular changes.
In international politics, national interest has priority over law and ethics. The passing of a resolution at the Security Council means that the powerful countries have succeeded in accumulating justification for the intervention based upon their own national interests. Here lies the reason why North Korea shouldn’t misjudge the situation.
* The writer is a professor at the Graduate School of National Intelligence. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Kim Gye-dong