Updated on 9 January 2017
Chapter 7: DECISIONS AND DOCUMENTS
Section 6: Decisions relating to UN membership
With respect to DPRK, Council recalls its Article 5 power to recommend that the GA suspend a Member State’s rights and privileges
In resolution 2321 (2016), adopted on 30 November 2016, the Security Council condemned “in the strongest terms” the nuclear test conducted on 9 September 2016 by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) “in violation and flagrant disregard of the Security Council’s resolutions”.
A notable provision of resolution 2321 (2016) is its paragraph 19, which states that the Council
“Recalls that a Member of the United Nations against which preventive or enforcement action has been
taken by the Security Council may be suspended from the exercise of the rights and privileges of
membership by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council, and that the
exercise of these rights and privileges may be restored by the Security Council”.
Although this paragraph does not explicitly cite Article 5 of the UN Charter, the language used by the Council is clearly based upon that Article, which reads:
“A Member of the United Nations against which preventive or enforcement action has been taken by the Security Council may be suspended from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. The exercise of these rights and privileges may be restored by the Security Council.”
The implicit threat contained in paragraph 19 of resolution 2321 (2016) is not the most extreme form of action that the Council can undertake with respect to the UN membership of the DPRK in the event of its continued non-compliance. Article 6 of the Charter grants to the Council the authority to recommend to the Assembly the expulsion of a Member State under certain circumstances:
“A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present
Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of
the Security Council.”
The Council has not considered taking action with respect to limiting a State’s UN membership since 1992. In that year, the Council, by its resolution 777 (1992), recommended “to the General Assembly that it decide that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) should apply for membership in the United Nations and that it shall not participate in the work of the General Assembly”. The Assembly acted on the Council’s recommendation by adopting resolution 47/1. It should be noted that this decision fell short of the full suspension provided for in Article 5, and also that it was in response to a unique fact situation. Subsequently, the decision limiting the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s participation in the General Assembly created difficulties of legal interpretation as to that State’s overall UN membership. In retrospect, therefore, it was generally felt that this case should not be considered a useful precedent for other situations (see pages 250-1 of the book).
Another article on this website describes an initiative in October 1974 by Kenya, Mauritania, Cameroon and Iraq to have the Security Council recommend to the General Assembly “the immediate expulsion of South Africa from the United Nations in compliance with Article 6 of the Charter” (S/11543). When that draft resolution was put to a vote, it received ten votes in favour, but was vetoed by France, the United Kingdom and the United States (S/PV.1808).
Resolution 2321 (2016) also places restrictions on DPRK diplomats. The Council:
“14. Calls upon all Member States to reduce the number of staff at DPRK diplomatic missions and
consular posts; . . . .
“16. Decides that all States shall take steps to limit the number of bank accounts to one per DPRK
diplomatic mission and consular post, and one per accredited DPRK diplomat and consular officer, at
banks in their territory”.
Article 41 of the UN Charter grants the Security Council the authority to impose an even more severe limitation on a State’s diplomats, in that it provides
“The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be
employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to
apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and
of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of
diplomatic relations” (our italics).
The last time that the Security Council adopted restrictions on a State’s diplomats was in 2000, in its resolution 1333 (2000) on the situation in Afghanistan. Paragraph 7 of that resolution
“Urges all States that maintain diplomatic relations with the Taliban to reduce significantly the number
and level of the staff at Taliban missions and posts and restrict or control the movement within their
territory of all such staff who remain; in the case of Taliban missions to international organizations, the
host State may, as it deems necessary, consult the organization concerned on the measures required to implement this paragraph”.
Following the adoption of resolution 1333 (2000), Afghanistan’s Taliban government presence in New York was reduced to one junior-level diplomat, operating out of his home apartment.
(This update supplements pages 423 to 425 of the book.)