Transparency, Secrecy, and Security: Liaisons Dangereuses

RULE OF LAW, FREEDOM AND SECURITY IN EUROPE, Julia Iliopoulos-Strangas, Oliver Diggelmann & Hartmut Bauer, eds., Societas Iuris Publici Europaei (SIPE) 6, Nomos, 2010

31 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2010 Last revised: 17 Sep 2010

See all articles by Anne Peters

Anne Peters

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

There seems to be a conflict between security and transparency, which may be resolved by balancing. The more transparency we grant, the higher will be losses in security, at least at first sight. In times of terror, authorities and judges tend to strike that balance more in favour of security, and against transparency.

This paper looks at that tension and at the balancing processes, and tries to explain that the problem is more complex than a simple trade-off between security and transparency. It shows that transparency and security do not inevitably stand in tension, but may work together. There are instances where more transparency generates also more security.

The “liaisons” between transparency and security depend, first, on the branch of government we are examining: the legislative, executive, or the judicial branch. Second, they hinge on the type of security we are aspiring at: personal security against crimes, political security, or military security? And third, there are differences depending on the level of governance. It matters whether we are looking at internal security within a state or at external security in the relations among nations.

The paper’s conclusion is that there is a very broad tendency towards transparent government all over the world, which has not been seriously called into question by the current rise of security concerns. Ultimately, the principle of transparency is even gaining ground on the international level and is acquiring the status of a truly transnational, that is both a domestic and international legal principle.

Keywords: Security, Transparency, Secrecy, Terror, Governance

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Peters, Anne, Transparency, Secrecy, and Security: Liaisons Dangereuses (2010). RULE OF LAW, FREEDOM AND SECURITY IN EUROPE, Julia Iliopoulos-Strangas, Oliver Diggelmann & Hartmut Bauer, eds., Societas Iuris Publici Europaei (SIPE) 6, Nomos, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1676249

Anne Peters (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law ( email )

Im Neuenheimer Feld 535
69120 Heidelberg, 69120
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.mpil.de

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