Q: Does the United States believe that Security Council Presidential Statements, including the statement that the Council adopted Monday on the North Korean launch, are “legally binding”?
A: Under Article 25 of the United Nations Charter, member states are legally required “to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter.”
There is nothing in the Charter that specifies the form in which the Council’s decisions must be recorded and, indeed, the word “resolution” is not used in the Charter. The Charter says that member states must comply with “decisions” of the Council, not that they must comply with “resolutions.”
In this case, the United States presented a draft Presidential Statement rather than a resolution to the full Security Council.
The Presidential Statement adopted on April 13, 2009 has the legal effect that we sought. In particular, Monday’s Presidential Statement makes it plain that North Korea’s recent launch contravenes Security Council Resolution 1718, and puts to rest any DPRK argument that the launch was permissible because it involved a satellite.
The Presidential Statement also reflects the Security Council’s agreement to designate entities and additional goods that will be subject to sanctions. This will be done either by the Committee that implements sanctions under Resolution 1718 or by the Council itself. Regardless of whether these steps are taken by the Council or the Committee, member States, including North Korea, will be legally bound to implement the sanctions.