JUNE 5, 2014 – Espionage, the Individual and the UN: Human Rights vs. National Security

United Nations Association in Canada, National Capital Region Branch invites you to

Panel Discussion (open to the public):

Espionage, the Individual and the UN:

Human Rights vs. National Security

June 5, 2014
7:00-9:00 p.m
After the Annual General Meeting from 6:00 – 6:45
Human Rights Research and Education Centre University of Ottawa,
Fauteux Hall, 57 Louis Pasteur, Room 550
For a campus map, please see:

Host and Moderator Professor John Packer, Director, Human Rights Researcher and Education Centre, University of Ottawa

First presentation: “Diplomatic Relations in the Digital Age and the United Nations”

Dr. Marcel Jesenský, Department of History, University of Ottawa/Carleton University, Ottawa

The rapid pace of technological development enables individuals all over the world to use new information and communication technologies and at the same time enhances the capacity of governments, companies and individuals to undertake surveillance, interception and data collection, which may violate or abuse human rights. Free and secret communication between a diplomatic mission and its sending government is the most important of all the privileges and immunities accorded under international diplomatic law. The temptation to intercept the diplomatic communications has always been strong and its possibility has increased with the greatest sophistication of modern technologies. States complain of breach of international law when their own communications are compromised while simultaneously stating that it is unpatriotic or naïve for questions to be raised about their own conduct. In December 2013, deeply concerned that electronic surveillance, interception of digital communications and collection of personal data may negatively impact human rights; the UN General Assembly has adopted resolution 68/167. Through this resolution, the Assembly has established, for the first time, that human rights should prevail irrespective of the medium and therefore need to be protected both offline and online.

Second presentation:  “Regulating Spies in the Skies: Recommendations for Drone Rules in Canada”

Shayna Gersher, Op-ed contributor to the Ottawa Citizen; Graduate student at the Institute of Political Economy, Carleton University.

The use of aerial drones for civil application is burgeoning in Canada. With so much drone activity taking place in the country, it is essential that citizens and elected government officials stay informed and help shape the new regulations underway, which seek to normalize drone use. Tonight’s talk will offer an overview of the emerging Canadian civil drone industry. It will highlight the policy-making process that is developing, and will offer several regulatory recommendations for the safe and ethical integration of drones in Canada.


Third presentation: “Keeping Spies Accountable in Democracies”

Wesley Wark, Visiting Professor, Centre for International Policy Studies, University of Ottawa.

TBC: In a post 9/11 world, the changing face of threats to national security and the technological possibilities opened up by Internet, mobile wireless, and capabilities for computer surveillance have transformed and heightened long-standing concerns about the intrusive powers of intelligence agencies in democratic societies.  These concerns are increasingly being focused, in large part due to the whistleblowing revelations of Edward Snowden, on the activities of intelligence agencies with a mandate for foreign intelligence but with a reach back into domestic communications.  In the Canadian context, the intelligence agency that deserves heightened scrutiny is the secretive Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC).  The presentation may focus on CSEC’s post 9/11 mandate and legal authorities and the privacy concerns raised around its metadata collection and practices for sharing foreign intelligence.  These concerns have been at the forefront of a recent lawsuit issued by the BC Civil Liberties Association, and in a recent Federal Court statement on warrants.

Fourth presentation: “Intelligence for Peacekeeping and Human Rights”

Stan Carlson, Former head of the Privy Council Office’s Intelligence Assessment Secretariat.

Presentation description will be in the handout available on June 5th.

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