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Economic sanctions towards North Korea

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 09 October 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4069
  1. Sanghyuk S Shin, fellow1,
  2. Ricky Y Choi, clinical instructor 2,
  3. Thomas E Novotny, professor and codirector3
  1. 1Korea Policy Institute, 3465 West 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90005, USA
  2. 2Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, 505 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA
  3. 3San Diego State University, Hardy Tower 119, 5500 Campanile Drive, HH 136B, San Diego, CA 92182-4162, USA
  1. sshin{at}

    A violation of the right to health and a call to action

    On 12 June 2009, the United Nations Security Council approved its strictest economic sanctions to date against North Korea in response to a series of provocative acts, including the detonation of a nuclear device.1 The United States is also considering expanding sanctions and has appointed a high level task force to coordinate military, political, and financial strategies against North Korea. However, economic sanctions are being considered with virtually no public discussion of their potential effects on the North Korean people. Notably, even the health community has been silent.

    In contrast, during the lead up to the Iraq war, health professionals contributed invaluable insights to public discourse regarding the effects of economic sanctions on health.2 3 Prominent health associations published position papers and issued statements opposing their use.2 4 In fact, economic sanctions have been shown to violate the fundamental right to health.2 5 Furthermore, they do not achieve political change—60 years of US sanctions against North Korea have failed to do so. The health …

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