Can Japan Search North Korean Ships on the High Seas?
The much-ballyhooed U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718 against North Korea continues to amount to pretty much nothing. This article , for instance, suggests that Japan is not sure that it has the legal authority under the U.N. Resolution to stop and inspect North Korean vessels suspected of carrying illicit weapons or materials. It is a bit murky, I have to admit:
Here are the key grafs from Resolution 1718:
(a) All Member States shall prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale
transfer to the DPRK, through their territories or by their nationals, or using
flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in their territories, of:
[list of banned items]
(f) In order to ensure compliance with the requirements of this paragraph,
and thereby preventing illicit trafficking in nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, their means of delivery and related materials, all Member States are called upon to take, in accordance with their national authorities and legislation, and consistent with international law, cooperative action including through inspection of cargo to and from the DPRK, as necessary;
Typically, though, international law does not authorize nations to board foreign-flagged vessels on the high seas, although one might argue for an exception for ships suspected of carrying WMDs. But this language doesn’t clearly provide such an exception. Unless I’m missing something, then, Resolution 1718 doesn’t really do all that much.