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

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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28 July 2014

Strengthening the OSCE's political leadership

The OSCE has a "dual leadership": a Chairmanship that rotates on a yearly basis and a Secretary General (SG) who is appointed for three years with the possibility of extension for a second term. Which state will chair the Organization usually gets decided two years in advance by a consensus decision of the OSCE Ministerial Council (MC). (There are some exceptions to this as in the past decisions on the next Chairmanship have been taken more than two years or less than two years in advance.) The mandates and roles of the Chairmanship and the SG are defined in respective MC decisions. In general, the Chair's role is political, whereas the SG is mainly concerned with executing the consensus decisions of the participating States in his role as "chief administrative officer". This system has its upsides as it ensures some power-sharing and a division of responsibilities between the SG and the Chairmanship; yet it also has its downsides and therefore is in need of some improvement. A discussion on how to improve the system has been launched in a guest blog entry by the Swiss think tank 'foraus', in which the idea of a permanent Swiss Chairmanship was floated as a solution to some of the problems inherent in the current OSCE Chairmanship model. As this suggestion was considered "illogical, unrealistic and undesirable" in my blog entry of 28 July, this present blog entry will provide some alternative suggestions that could help strengthen the OSCE leadership, especially in crisis situations.

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