UN’s International Intelligence Oversight Forum meets in London

Published on 15 October 2019

Last week the UN’s International Intelligence Oversight Forum (IIOF) took place in London to discuss the future of intelligence oversight worldwide.

Organised by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy (SRP), the two-day forum brought together representatives from governments, intelligence agencies, academic institutions and NGOs. Participants shared best practice and explored new ways to promote security while taking account of fundamental human rights, such as the freedom of expression and privacy.

Sir Adrian Fulford, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Commissioner, said:

“In the post-Snowden world, the way in which our security and law enforcement agencies work has changed. Transparency is critical.

“This forum provided a valuable opportunity to share best practice, promote human rights and encourage the delivery of robust oversight regimes globally.”

Professor Joseph Cannataci, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, said:

“The significant reinforcement of oversight mechanisms in the UK since 2016 and thus several best practices, including some pioneered by the UK, could be explored by the participants.”

This year’s theme was ‘Intelligence oversight at a crossroads’. Participants focused on their roles and responsibilities from a human rights perspective.

Speaking at the forum, Sir Adrian reinforced the importance of transparency to enhance public confidence in the use and oversight of intelligence. He also highlighted the benefit of engaging with all those who have a legitimate interest in the application of investigatory powers to encourage good practice in the use and oversight of those powers.

The event has been hosted by IIOF annually since 2016 and operates on a rotation, with a different country hosting each year. Since 2016, it has been hosted in Romania, Belgium and Malta respectively. This year the forum took place at Lancaster House in London.

The Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy is an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council to report on a country situation or specific human rights theme. The work of the current SRP, Professor Joseph Cannataci of Malta, includes gathering information on issues that may infringe an individual’s right to privacy in a digital age.


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