Defying United Nations Sanctions: Three Reasons for African Engagement with North Korea

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 by Tycho van der Hoog 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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This article appeared in Korea Economic Institute of America, Academic Paper Series (2022).

Author(s) / editor(s)

Tycho van der Hoog

Date, time and location

16 June 2022

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Tycho van der Hoog is a PhD candidate at the African Studies Centre Leiden. His PhD project, tentatively titled ‘Blood, Bullets, and Bronze: The Relations Between North Korean and Southern Africa, 1960-2020’ seeks to reveal the ties that bind North Korea to the African continent. His monograph Monuments of Power: The North Korean Origin of Nationalist Monuments in Namibia and Zimbabwe was published by the African Studies Centre Leiden in 2019.




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