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Goal 9
"Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation"

Investment in infrastructure such as transportation, irrigation, energy, information and communication technology is important in many countries to achieve sustainable development and empower the community. In addition, it has long been recognized that the increase in productivity and income and the improvement of health and education require investment in infrastructure.

Manufacturing is a major driver of economic growth, employment, and social stability. In North America and Europe, manufacturing value of $4,500 per capita was added, and in the case of the poorest countries, it was found to be about $100. Another important factor to consider is the emission of carbon dioxide from the manufacturing process. Carbon emissions have declined in many countries over the past decade, but the decline has not occurred worldwide.

Technological progress should involve efforts to achieve environmental goals such as increasing resource and energy efficiency. Industrialization does not occur without technology and innovation, and development will not take place without industrialization. In order to increase efficiency, more investment is needed in high-tech products that govern manufacturing products, and mobile services that strengthen human-to-human connections should be focused.

9.1 Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all

9.2 Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries

9.3 Increase the access of small-scale industrial and other enterprises, in particular in developing countries, to financial services, including affordable credit, and their integration into value chains and markets

9.4 By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities

9.5 Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending

9.a Facilitate sustainable and resilient infrastructure development in developing countries through enhanced financial, technological and technical support to African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States

9.b Support domestic technology development, research and innovation in developing countries, including by ensuring a conducive policy environment for, inter alia, industrial diversification and value addition to commodities

9.c Significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020

SDG 9 and the UN Human Rights Mechanisms

      1st UPR Cycle

      2nd UPR Cycle

      3rd UPR Cycle

수용 - Supported
Recommending State
Intensify its efforts to promote economic development
Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Strengthen measures to reinvigorate the national economy, including allowing more people-to-people contact through engagement in economic and commercial activities, including tourism
Implement in an effective manner its Strategy for National Economic Development, and its Strategies for the Development of the Health Sector and for the Development of Education, for a better standard of living for its population
Publish the full text of human rights treaties that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has ratified, translated into Korean, on the national network service ( Kwangmyong )
Introduce a law on freedom of information in accordance with international standards
주목 - Noted
Recommending State
Continue to strengthen economic, social and cultural development with full participation of the population in public and security affairs, boost socioeconomic development, industrialization and modernization, and achieve the Millennium Development Goals
Lao People's Democratic Republic
Ensure that high goals of economic development by 2012 contribute to bringing about a decisive turn in the promotion and protection of human rights
Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Strengthen its cooperation with the United Nations and its mechanisms on human rights and humanitarian matters with a view to building national capacities and improving the people's well-being
Work on overcoming the obstacles related to economic problems and the scarcity of resources through cooperation with the international community and the United Nations so as to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights

SDG 9 and the North Korean Government

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In line with SDG 9, during the inter-Korean summit, Kim Jong Un mentioned infrastructure and railways referring to the comparatively poor state of North Korea’s transportation system, stating “if (President Moon) comes to the North after living in the South, it may be embarrassing. We will make preparations for a comfortable visit.” As a result, the issue of infrastructure was put on the table in the Panmunjom Declaration, “[As] a first step, the two sides agreed to adopt practical steps towards the connection and modernisation of the railways and roads on the eastern transportation corridor as well as between Seoul and Sinuiju for their utilisation.”

Additionally, the DPRK has spent recent years working on major construction projects. In particular, the projects in Samjiyon have been frequently reported on in state media, with Kim Jong Un giving field guidance at construction sites. The remodelling of Samjiyon City is not the only major construction project that North Korea has undergone over the years to foster industrialization. The Rodong Sinmun has urged the military to spearhead major construction projects and economic development, such as the construction of a fertilizer plant in Sunchon and a spa resort in Yangdok.

In regards to the technological capabilities of industrial sectors, the state has also showcased efforts of “workers, technicians, and labourers in the power industry actively accepting various valuable technological innovation proposals to increase the efficiency of power generation facilities.” As well, in its 2021 VNR report, the DPRK mentioned that it had a 2.9% average annual growth rate in researchers per million population, and that it had increased investment for science and education research. The DPRK government further stated in the report that “Science and technology level of the country was analyzed comprehensively and the goals, ways and means in developing science and technology set up, and advancement of science and technology propelled.”

In its National Reports, the DPRK has made claims that it has made efforts to increase access to information and communications technology as well as the internet, stating that, “all farms have sci-tech diffusion rooms, where farmers access a variety of information on modern science and technology and in the fields of their interest” and that, “E-libraries with a database of a large volume and high-tech information system were set up at Kim Il Sung University and many others, providing excellent conditions for educational researchers and international scientific discussions and exchange.”

SDG 9 according to North Korean escapees

“We did construction work. Our unit did a lot of road construction. Roads linking PyongyangKaesong, Pyongyang-Hyangsan Heecheon, and the Pyongyang-Nampo highway. And it was a special road called ‘Route 31.’ It was a special road that no ordinary cars could drive on because it connected to the Leader’s holiday villas. The unit itself worked on machine repair from the very beginning. Once we started, there was a date set by which it had to be finished. When we didn’t have enough time, we had to mobilise people.”

[Interview by NKDB in 2017 (NKDB Unified Human Rights Database)]

“If you don’t want to work, then you have to be an 8/3 worker like me. Essentially that means I was registered at a company, but then did my own work elsewhere. What’s the point in having a job if you aren’t getting paid? There isn’t even any work to do. There are ten companies in Yanggang Province, but only two of them are in operation. First of all, there’s no electricity. Like I said before, we were punished if we did not go, so I still used to go to work. But then it was just a waste of time, I just smoked a cigarette and then went home. When I didn’t work, I was able to do some business. We did whatever it took to make some money.”

[Interview by NKDB in 2018 (NKDB Unified Human Rights Database)]

SDG 9 and the International Community

As the DPRK continues to work on developing infrastructure, the major districts and factories of Pyongyang are continually being supplied with electricity. However, the goal of “affordable and equitable access to resilient infrastructure for all” remains a faraway goal, as energy discrimination is rampant even within the capital city. Moreover, according to an internal source, as North Korean citizens are told to work on road construction and repair projects, reports have shown that road management workers pay special attention to roads used exclusively by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, rather than providing the access to all North Koreans.

Even so, recognizing the importance of China as their largest trading partner, the North Korean government has invested efforts to increase the efficiency of official trade. The New Yalu River Bridge, which began construction in 2011, is finally set to replace the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, which opened in 1943, and whose facilities are inadequate to handle the trade volume between North Korea and China. This indicates that once North korea’s strict border lockdown due to COVID-19 is lifted, the new bridge will facilitate the majority of the trade that occurs between China and North Korea.

As the DPRK does not disclose any statistics on its economy, the South Korean central bank has been publishing its estimates since 1991. Thus, it is difficult to know the proportion of GDP and per capita of manufacturing. According to South Korean research, the share of added value by manufacturing in North Korea’s GDP has not changed much at the level of 20% over the past decade.

As the DPRK does not disclose any statistics on its economy, the South Korean central bank has been publishing its estimates since 1991. Thus, it is difficult to know the proportion of GDP and per capita of manufacturing. According to South Korean research, the share of added value by manufacturing in North Korea’s GDP has not changed much at the level of 20% over the past decade.

In spite of the “Socialist Enterprise Responsibility System” that is often reported on by the DPRK government that had been introduced to increase factory production in 2014, sources have stated that it has not been effective. The institutional reform, which is often considered Kim Jong Un’s most important economic reform measure, substantially reduces the state’s financial support while expanding elements of market capitalism. The responsibility of guaranteeing funds for companies has been transferred from the state treasury to companies and banks, and KINU further stated that accordingly, companies have been given greater access to loans to cover insufficient funds. However, banks also lack funds in the face of economic difficulties.

The United States State Department mentioned in its report that the use of technology, and in particular, the internet, is extremely limited in North Korea and is only made available to high-ranking officials and other designated elites. Citing concerns such as “national security,” Pyongyang restricts digital access to the outside world for North Koreans. Instead, people are able to use the domestic intranet network called ‘Gwangmyong.’  According to Amnesty International, instead of increasing access to information and communications technology, the North Korean government maintains a monopoly over communications and continues to violate the rights of its citizens to seek, receive, and impart information.

Despite these controls, smuggling activities with China have led to more and more outside information breaching the country, with those in the border regions able to connect to the Chinese networks and make contact with those outside North Korea. The government has responded to these developments by enacting “anti-reactionary thought” laws that punish those who are caught distributing or consuming unapproved media and information. Depending on the type of media, the punishment ranges from time in a labour training camp to life in a political prison camp or even execution. NKDB’s research assessed that while the government monopoly on information has eroded over time, the punishment for unauthorised consumption has remained strict, which not only inhibits innovation, but actively deprives the citizenry of access to information that does not allihn with the state’s interests.

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