Remarks at a UN Security Council Meeting on the Implementation of the Note S/2010/507 (Wrap-Up Session)

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
August 30, 2017


Thank you, Mr. President. As we consider the Security Council’s work in August, I congratulate you and your Mission on a successful presidency.

I turn first to the issue of North Korea, which in a sense has bookended the month. We saw a strong example of Council unity in early August and then an alarming reminder of the North Korean threat just this week. The Council came together on the first Saturday of August for the unanimous adoption of a resolution that sent a stark message to the North Korean dictatorship. They will pay a price for the aggression and arrogance of continuing their prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile programs. With our action, the Council also reminded all UN Member States that they must rigorously enforce this newest resolution – containing the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against the North Korean regime – as well as all previous Security Council resolutions.

With its behavior in recent days, however, North Korea’s leaders have made crystal clear that they are not yet ready to abandon their dangerous path. Twelve members of this Council alone are within reach of their missiles, and I would remind my colleagues that North Korea has proven it is not beholden to friendships or alliances. Even as we rightly celebrate the adoption of Resolution 2371, we must recognize that North Korea will persist in its behavior, evidenced by Monday’s highly provocative launch over Japan. The Council, once again, unanimously ‎condemned North Korea by adopting a PRST last night, and there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Council will not acquiesce but will continue to increase pressure on the regime and seek to change North Korea’s path.

Turning to the issue of sanctions more generally, Mr. President, I commend your Mission for its work this month in holding a briefing to consider the design and effectiveness of UN sanctions. We also held meetings on the sanctions regimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, and Libya. Taken together, these meetings show that when the Council speaks with one voice to implement and enforce sanctions, we demonstrate our capacity to promote and protect international peace and security. When we do not speak with one voice, we undermine both the effectiveness of sanctions as a tool and the credibility of this Council. Council unity is not an end goal, however, and when the Council is unwilling or unable to enforce or enact sanctions, the United States will take action – including unilateral sanctions – to defend ourselves, our allies, or our values. I urge Council members to boost their efforts to effectively use this important tool.

I also thank you, Mr. President, for holding the briefing of the DRC Sanctions Committee in the open chamber, which allowed the families of Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan to participate. I encourage my colleagues on the Council to support the Secretary-General in his efforts to immediately establish under his authority an independent investigation into the deaths of these two experts.

Mr. President, yesterday’s open debate considered the issue of peacekeeping operations in the larger context of sustaining peace, and we welcomed the opportunity to discuss how that fits into a broader vision for peacekeeping reform. Looking ahead, we will have another opportunity to consider peacekeeping reform at Ethiopia’s Council meeting next month during high-level week. I understand a resolution will be adopted at this meeting and I urge Council members to produce a strong text that reinforces peacekeeping effectiveness and efficiency and allows us to better assess performance. And while we support the African Union’s efforts to increase financial self-reliance, I would remind my colleagues that the AU must take more steps on this front before we are ready to enshrine any decisions in a resolution.

I also wish to highlight the Council’s upcoming visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for consultations with the AU Peace and Security Council next week. This annual dialogue allows the Security Council an important opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the AU and to further UN-AU cooperation.

Thank you, Mr. President, for your steady and professional leadership of the Council this month. And finally, I also wish to commend my Japanese colleague for his Mission’s excellent work on the revision of presidential note 507, which was adopted earlier today. This revision goes a long way to improving the Council’s working methods and contributes to the Council’s effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency. I congratulate Japan for its tireless and successful efforts on this important matter.

In closing, we offer our support to Ethiopia as they pick up the gavel in the month of September.