Targeted Human Rights Sanctions for North Korea

Fiona Bruce MP, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, has raised the issue of accountability for crimes against humanity in North Korea by asking the Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office whether “the UK is able to identify those responsible for human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; and what steps the Government is taking to impose sanctions on North Korean officials similar to the financial sanctions imposed by HM Treasury on people responsible for serious human rights violations in Iran and Ukraine.”

The international community has been urged to target DPRK officials that are deemed to be responsible for crimes against humanity. Michael Kirby, Chair of the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on North Korea, has stated that “More monitoring and engagement alone cannot suffice in the face of crimes that shock the conscience of humanity” and that “perpetrators must be held accountable, it is necessary to deter further crimes.”

In its final 2014 report, the COI recommended that the Security Council adopt targeted sanctions “against those who appear to be most responsible for crimes against humanity.” This recommendation has yet to be fully addressed or implemented.

In response, Hugo Swire MP, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, noted that the “introduction of sanctions on human rights grounds would require the establishment of a new sanctions regime at UN or EU level” and that “Identifying individuals or entities with the degree of legal certainty required for sanctions listing would be difficult.”