Declaration on Espionage and Surveillance
Meeting of the SI Council in Istanbul, Turkey, 11-12 November 2013
The World Council of the Socialist International meeting in Istanbul on 11-12 November 2013, has discussed the situation of espionage and surveillance that has recently become part of the global agenda. The accusations against the main information agencies and against certain nations have, in recent months, affected relations in the international community, especially in such important fora as the United Nations General Assembly. Espionage and surveillance are realities that today form part of the very complex scenario of instantaneous global mass communications. Citizens all over the world demand respect for privacy and security and are calling for transparency in the work carried out by agencies and governments on these matters, a scenario which is also marked by the disorientation faced with the apparent disregard of concepts such as "allies" and "alliances" in the sense that they were understood until now.
The international condemnation of these facts is understandable and justified and must open the way to the rapid adoption of measures bringing about the normalisation of relations at a global level. The important private actors who operate and control the internet should assume their responsibility for the privacy, strength and trustworthiness of the system and should guarantee cyber security. Regulatory and legislative organs at the national, regional and international level should propose clear and efficient rules to adequately ensure the safety of personal data and their transfer, with the application of appropriate personal, corporate and institutional sanctions for any transgressions. The principle of inviolability of private correspondence must be applied without exception to the exchanges that are now overwhelmingly by electronic means. The same can be applied to telephone conversations, video conferences and other means of exchange of communications. For the Socialist International, aside from a formal reinforcement of means of communication, the principles that ensure the public freedoms and civil rights of millions of persons in the world and respect for national sovereignty must be completely regained, consolidated and preserved in this era of global communications.
The Socialist International considers that to rebuild the loss of trust due to espionage and surveillance, the governments of the major global powers must play a central role. It is to them that the leaders of countries that have discovered the vulnerability of their exchanges of information, the mass media and international public opinion will address their demands for responses. Future responsibilities and commitments regarding espionage and surveillance are of concern for political officials; they must define the role that they play to support the building of a global society that is more secure and more respectful of the rights of all people.
Finally, the Socialist International reiterates that the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and other transnational crimes must be advanced within a framework of respect of international law and its institutions. Justice at a domestic level and international cooperation are the legitimate means to authorise, conduct and control situations that must always be considered as exceptional, such as listening to telephone conversations or the interception of electronic correspondence. It must be ensured that even in the fight against these scourges that do not recognise national borders, the fundamental rights of people and the sovereignty of all nations that make up the international community are fully respected.