A Namibian delegation currently in New York for a United Nations event has asked for an appointment with the UN committee on sanctions to explain the country’s relations with North Korea, which made international headlines in recent weeks.
President Hage Geingob is leading the Namibian delegation in New York, that includes International Relations Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, for a high-level thematic debate on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A military project between Namibia and North Korea is said to be in defiance the UN Security Council which banned, among others, any technology transfer or training that could be used for military purposes between North Korea and UN member countries.
North Korea is currently building an ammunition factory in Namibia, but President Geingob – speaking on the matter during his State of the Nation Address earlier this month, said the agreement was entered into before UN sanctions were imposed on the Asian country.
Geingob said trade agreements with North Korea started way back in 1990. It is not clear what sanctions the UN could impose on those countries found wanting in relation to the sanctions imposed on North Korea – a country often accused by UN members of gross human rights violations.
NBC reported yesterday that the Namibian delegation in New York is scheduled to meet the UN committee on sanctions to explain its relations with North Korea. This is what President Hage Geingob told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York,” the national broadcaster reported.
The opposition put Geingob on the spot during his State of the Nation Address on April 5, but Geingob said as a sovereign country, Namibia is at liberty to forge relations with any nation of its choice – including Pyongyang.
He explained that the relationship between the Namibian people and North Korea dates back to the days of the liberation struggle when that country supported Namibia, and diplomatic ties continued after independence.
“When the sanctions came, we sat down to look at where we are in conflict, nothing is retroactive, the law that was there when the crime was committed is not applicable to that situation. Some of the things, such as the building of our State House, was done before the sanctions. So we are going to see that committee to explain the report and it is not that we are committing a crime. These things are new,” Geingob said.
North Koreans were involved in the construction of Namibia’s State House, Heroes’ Acre monument, the military museum at Okahandja, the Independence Museum and other military construction projects that are now said to be prohibited under the UN sanctions.
By last night it was not clear what the Namibian delegation intended to tell the UN sanctions committee and whether they have been granted an audience with the chairperson of that committee.
Many UN agencies are represented in Namibia and it is feared that sanctions might mean such agencies closing shop in the country. New Era was not able to obtain comment from Minister Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday proved as her phone went unanswered.