Show us the Films: Transparency, National Security, and Disclosure of Information Collected by Advanced Weapon Systems under International Law
45(3) Israel Law Review 459 (2012), published by Cambridge University Press
34 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2011 Last revised: 19 Feb 2015
Date Written: June 15, 2012
The advent of modern technology such as drones provides states with unique capabilities to acquire, with ease, high-quality information regarding acts performed by armed forces and agencies, such as (but not only) targeted killings. In some cases, this information can shed light on the facts of the case, when alleged violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law have occurred and thus investigation is called for. However, although calls for disclosure are increasing, states are reluctant to disclose information relating to such activities. This article discusses potential sources for obligations of disclosure, whether to civil society or to certain international bodies such as the International Criminal Court. In essence, the article posits that disclosure obligations can derive from the principle of transparency, as it applies, inter alia, to investigations, augmented by an emerging positive right to receive information. These obligations must be balanced, in turn, with considerations of national security. The article suggests that this balance, across a wide spectrum of international contexts, should be conducted in light of standards of necessity, proportionality and specificity. Accordingly, blanket non-disclosure may constitute a violation of international law or result in factual inferences to the detriment of states or individuals.
Keywords: International Law, International Humanitarian Law, International Human Rights Law, International Criminal Law, Law and Technology, Drones, Targeted Killing, Disclosure, Freedom of Information, Transparency, Law of Armed Conflict, Global Administrative Law
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation