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Defying United Nations Sanctions: Three Reasons for African Engagement with North Korea
Region: Africa
Location: Korea, North
Published June 15, 2022
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The United Nations (UN) sanctions against North Korea are weakened by structural evasion techniques and weak enforcement. The African continent is a crucial node in the global illicit networks of North Korea. This paper examines three motives for African states to cooperate with North Korea, with a particular focus on the context of southern Africa: historical affinity (reciprocity), the practical issue of maintenance dependency (necessity), and the presence of weak enforcement regimes (opportunity). Based on a deep reading of UN Panel of Experts reports, academic literature and policy papers, novel archival material, and an interview with a defected North Korean diplomat, this paper argues that solutions to strengthen the sanctions regime can be successful only if they are grounded in African initiatives.

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