Daragh Murray, Pete Fussey, Lorna McGregor, and Maurice Sunkin explore the international human rights law implications of state surveillance.
Today, state surveillance involves the large-scale collection and analysis of digital data—activities which allow for widespread monitoring of citizens. And while commentary on the legality of these bulk surveillance regimes has focused on whether this routine surveillance is permissible, the European Court of Human Rights has recently held that, subject to appropriate safeguards, surveillance of this type is legitimate, and sometimes necessary, for national security purposes in a democratic society.
In their analysis, the authors outline the types of oversight mechanisms needed to make large-scale surveillance human rights compliant. To do so, they break down state surveillance into its constituent stages—authorization, oversight, and ex post facto review—and focus their attention on the first two stages of the process.
First, they argue that effective oversight of authorizations requires increasing data access and ensuring independent judicial review. Second, they argue that effective oversight of ongoing surveillance requires improving technical expertise and providing for long term supervision. The authors conclude that a “court-plus” model of judicial officers and non-judicial staff would deliver enhanced judicial qualities to authorizations while also providing continuous engagement through ongoing review and supervision.
Transnational private actors (TNPAs) conducting business in a sanctioned country may depart from that market when the costs of doing business with a sanctioned state outweigh any potential profit. When TNPAs cease operations in a sanctioned market, their withdrawal can ultimately denigrate the sanctioned country’s economy and bolster the effectiveness of sanctions imposed by the sanctioning state.
Mahan Ashouri examines the role of TNPAs operating in the Iranian market after the United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and reinstatement of sanctions against Iran in 2018. His article explores the expanded role of TNPAs in the global economy, the risk calculation conducted by TNPAs operating in sanctioned Iran, and the great influence of TNPAs on the effectiveness of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.
Ashouri ultimately concludes that TNPAs exited the Iranian market not out of strict compliance with international law, but out of a rational risk calculation. The decision of TNPAs to leave the Iranian market not only damaged Iran’s economy, by depriving the state of millions of dollars in trade and foreign investment, but also elevated the United States’ ability to leverage economic sanctions over Iran in order to renegotiate the nuclear deal.
However, Iran’s refusal to renegotiate amidst highly restrictive sanctions and its subsequent financial reliance on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps triggered a series of events that tragically led to the Ukrainian plane crash in Iran in January 2020.