Intermediate/ Advance Topic B: International Surveillance

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North Atlantic Treaty Organization Jackson Gillard

Intermediate/ Advance

Topic B: International Surveillance


NATO and the United Nations:

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defense whereby its 28 member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. All member states are responsible with the aid of other NATO nations.

National Security Agency (NSA):c:\users\2015149\documents\arthur wu\'s directory\appleby college\g 11\model united nations\acmun ix logo.png

The National Security Agency (NSA) is the main producer and manger of signals intelligence for the United States government and is estimated to be one of the largest of U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget. The NSA operates under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense and reports to the Director of National Intelligence. The NSA is tasked with the global monitoring collection decoding, translation, and analysis of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes. The NSA is also responsible for the protection of U.S. government communications and information systems. Unlike the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the NSA mainly focuses on National and internal affairs rather than international affairs.

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Defining Terms:

International: existing, occurring or carried on between two or more nations (adj). Relations between two different Nations, ex: NATO is an international organization consisting of different Nations which have relations with other Nations.

Surveillance: close observation, the act of carefully watching someone or something, especially in order to prevent or detect a crime. NATO uses surveillance as a means of security and protection of member nations. Surveillance has revealed to have negatives to it as well as it has been criticized for infringing on the privacy of nations both members and non-members of NATO.

History of Global Surveillance:

The origins of global surveillance can be traced back to the late 1940s, after the UKUSA Agreement was jointly enacted by the United Kingdom and the United States, which eventually culminated in the creation of the global surveillance network code-named ECHELON in 1971. Decades later, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA’s role in economic espionage in a report entitled ‘Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information in 1999. However for the general public it was a series of internal NSA documents in June 2013 that first revealed the massive extent of the NSA’s spying, both foreign and domestic. Most of these were leaked by an ex-contractor Edward Snowden. Many countries around the world, including Western Allies and NATO members have been targeted by the “Five Eyes”, a strategic alliance of five English speaking democratic countries (3 of which are NATO members (USA, Canada, Britain)).


  1. International Espionage and Surveillance Alliances within NATO:

On June 6, 2013, a series of revelations where revealed by an American ex-NSA contracted systems analyst named Edward Snowden. A cache of documents was released to two journalists, it is estimated that the cache contained 15,000-20,000 documents both small and large. Over the next two months the documents were released and it became clear that the NSA had operated a complex web of spying programs which allowed it to intercept internet and telephone conversations from over a billion users from dozens of countries. Specific discoveries were made about China, the European Union, and Latin America. According to the April 2013 summary of documents leaked by Snowden, other than to combat terrorism, these surveillance programs were employed to assess the foreign policy and economic stability of other countries. The countries targeted included a number of NATO and European countries including but not limited to France, Germany, Italy, the European Union, and several committees within the UN itself. What was also revealed was that NSA was not alone in carrying out these plans. The US was in an alliance based on the sharing of information and surveillance with 4 other countries known as the “Five Eyes” alliance. The alliance is between three NATO countries, Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States, and two south Pacific countries, Australia, and New Zealand. Even though the original treaties signed by these five countries included signatures from countries such as Denmark, Germany, and Turkey most of the information sharing was strictly between the ‘five eyes’.

  1. Surveillance and Espionage in the UN:

It was discovered that NSA technicians working for the Blarney program have managed to decrypt the UN’s internal video teleconferencing (VTC) system. The NSA agents noted: “This traffic is getting us internal UN VTCs. Within just under three weeks, the number of decrypted communications increased from 12 to 458. But even in UN circles a little bit of spying has always been viewed as a minor offense and, according to statements made by former government employees, the Americans have never paid much attention to the agreements, but this could change with the revelations of US spying on the EU. The spying scandal has strained relations between the trans-Atlantic partners more than any other security-policy issue in recent history. The French Foreign Minister was quoted as describing the situation as “absolutely unacceptable”. Even conservative politicians such as Elmar Brok (a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government) spoke of “an enormous loss of trust”. Other parliamentarians have threatened to pressure the US by suspending talks on a free trade agreement.

Past UN Actions

Due to the fact that the events are quite recent, there has been little done to address the problem. Neither NATO nor the UN has had time to create a solid resolution as more information is revealed and current events need to be considered. European and US justice officials have agreed to work toward “restoring trust”. Several conferences have been set up to have “talks” with US officials and politicians and several European nations have arranged private conferences to confront the United States. The US has had conferences with European officials to discuss the possibility of extending the data protection used by the “Five Eyes” to other European countries. European Union official Viviane Reding has openly asked for the United States to stop collecting private information of citizens. So far many of these conferences have been delayed, which is why a conference between all NATO nations is necessary.

Keys of the Resolution

  1. Should the Five Eyes members be held accountable for their actions?

  2. Should the Five Eyes members be penalized for their espionage?

  3. What should (if any) consequences be for these nations.

  4. What should be done to stop the spreading of classified documents across the internet?

  5. What can ensure trust in member nations in the future?

  6. To what extent should a country share it’s surveillance with other NATO nations?

  7. Understand where you country stands and how they are affected by the main issues.

I hope you found this guide helpful and a good base to start studying for your specific country.

Good Luck

-Jackson Gillard

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