New global principles will balance national security and the right to know

June 15, 2013

The Global Principles on NationalSecurity and the Right to Information (The Tshwane Principles) were presented. Itis the result of more than two years of international cooperation. Theseprinciples were developed by 22 organizations and scientific centers withparticipation of more than 500 experts from more than 70 states during 14 councilsall around the world. These Principles were presented on the 12th ofJune during meeting in Tshwane, South Africa.

The Tshwane Principles are aimed onreaching balance between state secret and the right of society to know inglobal world, changed by affords in fighting with terrorism and spreading ofdigital technologies.

These Principles point out whatinformation that is managed by the State, can legally be kept in secret andwhat information has to be disclosed. Also they define standards of treating agilersthat act in the interests of the society, questions of securing and disclosureof information ect.

Main ideas of the Tshwane Principles:

  • No restriction on the right to information onnational security grounds may be imposed unless the government can demonstratethat: (1) the restriction (a) is prescribed by law and (b) is necessary in ademocratic society (c) to protect a legitimate national security interest; and (2)the law provides for adequate safeguards against abuse, including prompt, full,accessible, and effective scrutiny of the validity of the restriction by an independentoversight authority and full review by the courts (Principle 3).
  • No public authority may be exempted fromdisclosure requirements (Principle 5).
  • Information regarding violations of humanrights or serious violations of international humanitarian law may not bewithheld on national security grounds in any circumstances (Principle 10 A).
  • The overall legal framework concerningsurveillance of all kinds, as well as the procedures to be followed forauthorizing surveillance, should be accessible to the public (Principle 10E).
  • The law should protect from retaliation publicpersonnel who make disclosures of information showing wrongdoing (Princilple38).
To download the Tshwane Principles in English.