December 12, 2013
German, Brazilian UN draft urges halt to excessive spying
Germany and Brazil circulated a draft resolution to a UN General Assembly committee that calls for an end to excessive electronic surveillance, data collection and other gross invasions of privacy.
The draft resolution, which both Germany and Brazil made public, does not name any specific countries, though UN diplomats said it was clearly aimed at the United States, which has been embarrassed by revelations of a massive international surveillance program from a former US intelligence contractor.
The German-Brazilian draft would have the 193-nation assembly declare that it is "deeply concerned at human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of any surveillance of communications, including extraterritorial surveillance of communications."
It would also call on UN member states "to take measures to put an end to violations of these rights and to create the conditions to prevent such violations, including by ensuring that relevant national legislation complies with their obligations under international human rights law."
The resolution will likely undergo changes as it is debated in the General Assembly's Third Committee, which focuses on human rights. It is expected to be put to a vote in the committee later this month and then again in the General Assembly next month, diplomats said.
Several diplomats said they would be surprised if the resolution did not receive the support of an overwhelming majority of UN member states.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both condemned the widespread snooping by the US National Security Agency. Charges that the NSA accessed tens of thousands of French phone records and monitored Merkel's mobile phone have caused outrage in Europe.
General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, unlike resolutions of the 15-nation Security Council. But assembly resolutions that enjoy broad international support can carry significant moral and political weight.
The resolution would urge states "to establish independent national oversight mechanisms capable of ensuring transparency and accountability of State surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data."
It would also call on UN human rights chief Navi Pillay to prepare and publish a report "on the protection of the right to privacy in the context of domestic and extraterritorial, including massive, surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data."
Revelations about a massive US surveillance campaign came from documents leaked to media organizations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. United States has said that it is not monitoring Merkel's communications and will not do so in the future, but has not commented on possible past surveillance.
Earlier this week, the United Nations said the United States has pledged not to spy on the world body's communications after a report that the NSA had gained access to the UN video conferencing system.