Latest Journals

20 May 2014

From Oversight to Undersight: the Internationalization of Intelligence

Due to the globalization and nodalisation of intelligence - resulting in hybrid intelligence assemblages - well-known problems related to overseeing intelligence are deteriorating. Not only does the international cooperation between intelligence services contribute to this problem, but especially the internationalization of intelligence collection meaning that as a consequence of technological and market transformations intelligence collection has become footloose and can be conducted remotely. In that way it leaves any idea of national sovereignty or the national protection of civil rights increasingly obsolete. Instead of oversight by institutions the real counter-power in post-democratic constellations seems to be practised by whistleblowers and investigative journalists. Sousveillance or undersight therefore seems to be the most important current oversight mechanism.

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20 May 2014

Between ‘sousveillance’ and applied ethics: practical approaches to oversight

The issue of the oversight of intelligence and security services is playing an increasing role in the debate on global security issues both among specialists and the broader public. Beyond theoretical debates on intelligence and surveillance ten practical approaches to advance oversight are being developed. Core ideas address the implications of the political supremacy of oversight, the need for revisiting the focus of oversight as well as the possibilities of the proliferation of best oversight practices. Furthermore, suggestions are made regarding the integration of ethics in security research and the creation of space for applied ethics for intelligence practitioners.

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Debate & Blogs

21 August 2014

When weapons speak: A summer of conflict and violence

This summer has seen a dangerous and violent escalation of several conflicts. In Ukraine, fierce fighting is taking place between the Ukrainian military and the pro-Russian rebels in the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk. In addition, Russia and Ukraine continue to confront each other and the situation along their border is heating up. We hear reports by journalists of The Guardian and The Telegraph that Russian military vehicles have entered Ukraine while the Russian aid convoy still waits near the Ukrainian border. In Iraq, reports of unimaginable brutality by fighters of the Islamic State (IS) against religious minorities are reaching us. Against this background, the United States felt compelled to intervene and launch airstrikes against IS targets in Iraq. In addition, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has reached a new and dangerous level of violence and the civil war in Syria is ongoing. How can we make sense out of these disturbing reports and a seemingly never-ending spiral of violence?

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28 July 2014

A permanent Swiss Chairmanship for the OSCE – a viable suggestion?

The current crisis in Ukraine has demonstrated the importance of an effective OSCE leadership. The eruption of an acute crisis in the OSCE area demands swift reaction and political leadership that can help broker consensus decisions among all 57 OSCE participating States - even when the pressure is high. In this context, the guest blog entry of 25 June 2014 by Maximilian Stern and David Svarin from the Swiss think tank 'foraus' is timely as it raises the important issue of the sustainability of the OSCE political leadership, especially in crisis situations. This is a reply to the guest blog entry by 'foraus' and a critical comment on whether their suggestion to introduce a permanent Swiss OSCE Chairmanship is viable.

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