Forum: GA1 (Human Rights)
Issue: The tension between national security and the right to information
National security and the public’s right to know are often viewed as pulling in opposite directions. While there is tension between a government’s desire to keep information secret on national security grounds and the public’s right to information held by public authorities, a clear-eyed review of recent history suggests that legitimate national security interests are, in practice, best protected when the public is well informed about the state’s activities, including those undertaken to protect national security.
Key concepts related to the problem
National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic power, diplomacy, power projection and political power.
Right to information is the right of access on the part of citizens to information held by state bodies. It also includes freedom of expression and information.
Recent events related to this issue
Of course, this problem is actualized in connection with the events that are happening in the world nowadays. Everyone is well aware of the incident with Edward Snowden, former CIA employee and NSA contractor who disclosed the information regarding the total surveillance of U.S. intelligence for information communications between citizens of many countries around the world. As it is known, this case is not the first one. Wikileaks - is an international, online, non-profit organization created by Julian Assange which publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources. Different documents containing information threatening national security often appeared on this website. For example, is the case when Bradley Manning, American soldier, transmitted the huge set of classified documents to Wikileaks. All these cases underline the significence of the topic raised in our committee.
Obviously, it is necessary to find a reasonable balance between the right to information and national security. Access to information, by enabling public scrutiny of state action, not only safeguards against abuse by public officials but also permits the public to play a role in determining the policies of the state and thereby forms a crucial component of genuine national security, democratic participation, and sound policy formulation. In order to protect the full exercise of human rights, in certain circumstances it may be necessary to keep information secret to protect legitimate national security interests. This is to discuss this issue in committee.
Materials related to this issue