18.9.2021 : 9:12 : +0200

SAENK Tools and Resources

UN sanctions and arms embargoes


The UN applies sanctions to a number of conflicts and actors, including both state and non-state actors. ‘The use of mandatory sanctions is intended to apply pressure on a State or entity  to comply with the objectives set by the UN Security Council, without resorting to the use of force’ (UNSC, n.d.a). Sanctions are thus coercive measures that the Security Council uses to enforce its decisions. It does so based on the powers that Chapter VII of the UN Charter confers on it.  

As at May 2019, 14 UN sanctions regimes and 11 mandatory arms UN embargo regimes are in force (see Table 1). No non-mandatory UN arms embargoes are in force.


Table 1 UN sanctions regimes and arms embargoes currently in force

* By Resolution 2444 (2018), the Security Council terminated the Eritrea sanctions regime, modified the mandate of the committee accordingly and replaced the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea with the Panel of Experts on Somalia.

** By resolutions 1988 (2011) and 1989 (2011) the Security Council decided that the list of individuals and entities subject to the measures would be split in two. The committee was henceforth known as the al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee, mandated to oversee the implementation of the measures against individuals and entities associated with al-Qaeda. A separate committee was established to oversee the implementation of the measures against individuals and entities associated with the Taliban in constituting a threat to the peace, stability, and security of Afghanistan.

UN sanctions regime on North Korea


Normative framework

Through Resolution 1718 (2006) the UN Security Council imposed a range of multilateral sanctions, including an arms embargo, on North Korea, in order to reduce or eliminate the threat posed to international peace and security by the country’s nuclear test of October 2006 and its announced withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (UNSC, 2006).

Since 2006 the Security Council has introduced new sanctions and expanded the arms embargo on North Korea several times.

Through ten operating resolutions the Security Council has created the most complex array of restrictions that the UN has ever imposed on any state or non-state actor.  




The UN sanctions regime on North Korea requires UN member states to periodically report on steps taken in response to violations or attempted violations of sanctions.

National implementation reports (NIRs) detail how UN member states are applying approved sanctions. While reporting is a legal obligation for member states, only a limited number of countries have submitted NIRs.

As at May 2019, the following states have submitted NIRs under one or more UN resolutions (UNSC, n.d.b).

Countries that have cooperated with the UN Panel of Experts

The national authorities of a number of countries have responded to the UN Panel of Experts requests in relation to possible cases of non-compliance with the UN sanctions and arms embargo on North Korea.

Tools to support implementation/enforcement

UN sanctions and arms embargoes: relevant actors and bodies

Various actors and bodies are responsible for adopting and enforcing UN sanctions and arms embargoes. More information here.

Implementation assistance notices

Seven implementation assistance notices (IANs) further elaborate the nature and extent of sanctions on North Korea. These notices are designed to provide UN member states with information and interpretive guidance on the implementation and enforcement of targeted sanctions.

How-to Guides

Supporting Effective Implementation of UN Sanctions on North Korea

  1. How to prevent North Korean arms embargo violations
  2. How to prevent North Korean sanctions evasion through diplomatic channels
  3. How to prevent North Korean designated entity sanctions evasion

Available in Arabic, English, and French, the guides aim to support the UN sanctions regime on North Korea by helping practitioners, stakeholders, and other subject matter experts identify evasion trends and practical risk assessment techniques.

This video gives an overview of the first guide:


Briefing Paper

The Small Arms Survey Briefing Paper Covert Carriers: Evolving Methods and Techniques of North Korean Sanctions Evasion provides a detailed overview of how the DPRK evades sanctions by employing its diplomatic resources and exploiting key loopholes relating to transport, logistics, and proliferation finance.

The paper emphasizes the importance for UN member states, logistics companies, and global banks to adequately screen and monitor North Korean activities and transactions. The study also highlights how new information-sharing mechanisms would strengthen the ability of states, private industry, and the UN Panel of Experts to better detect ongoing North Korean violations and dismantle existing sanctions evasion networks.

Regional and international information sharing

Read reports from SAENK expert meetings:




UNSC (United Nations Security Council). 2006. Resolution 1718 (2006). Adopted 14 October. S/RES/1718 (2006) of 14 October. 

—. n.d.a. ‘Committees, Working Groups and Ad Hoc Bodies.’ Accessed April 2019.  

—. n.d.b. ‘Implementation Reports.’ Accessed April 2019.

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