Iowa Youth Symposium on the United Nations
Study Guide Concerning the Question ~
What should the United States position in the United Nations be on
and regulation of
intelligence agencies in the maintenance of
security; and defining covert espionage? (Political Topic)
Brief Topic Background
inadequately defined under international law even though both developed
developed nations carry
out spying and eavesdropping operations against t
nations must monitor the actions of one another
in order to
balance their own position of power and self
As a result, t
he word intelligence has
many meanings. When referring to people, intelligence appl
ies to the ability to comprehend
information. When thinking in a more abstract way, the principal definition can be described as
relevant information to policy decisions. Many definitions include the assumption that this type
of intelligence holds charac
ter of secrecy, and of protected data. These covert
operations have the desired goal of gathering of information without detection, and therefore
without any consent on the part of the infiltrated. This type of intelligence gathering is also
own as espionage. In this sense, intelligence agencies are the organizations designed to act in
order to collect and analyze data and also to protect their own nation’s own information, like the
in the United States,
Ministry of State Security in Chin
Mossad in Israel, Federal Security
Service in Russia or Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in the United Kingdom
. These are large
scale intelligence agencies from developed nations but even small lesser developed nations have
formed agencies to conduct
covert operations to protect their security.
These agencies, in the modern sense, can be seen as products of the first modern nation
states which emerged from the sixteenth century. In the twentieth century, mainly due to the
Cold War, the focus of the in
telligence agencies became the defense of an ideology and the
affirmation of its supremacy. In other words, the country with the best and most widespread
network of trained espionage agents had the advantage on the world stage. This competition has
o an unparalleled use of espionage. The vast quantity of cases in which officers were
recruited to pass information to the other side may illustrate this. With the security of espionage
gone, at least temporarily, many began to hold the belief that such
were more internally harmful than helpful, and therefore, outdated and useless.
However, intelligence agencies still have uses in modern society. Some estimates reveal
that over ten million phone calls and emails are recorded a
nd registered by agencies within the
United States and Great Britain.
Many nations believe that with the increase of terrorism, ethnic
and religious conflicts, illegal immigration, scarcity of resources and the trafficking of drugs and
arms, covert espion
age is necessary to insure a nation’s political security.
However, it should be
remembered that one major problem related to intelligence gathering is the consequence of using
unreliable information. Misinformation on the existence or non
existence of we
apons of mass
destruction in Iraq, for example, provided much of the political basis for the 2003 Iraq War.
Situations such as this have called attention to the fact the secret activities are not necessarily
reliable, bringing up even more questions about
the necessity and validity of uncontrolled
espionage on the world stage.
Questions to Consider
What is the future of intelligence agencies on the world scene?
What is the
of espionage activity on the world scene?
What is the role of digital espionage in international political security?
How can nations test the credibility of information gathered and/or received?
How should the sharing of information be coordinated
or should it be coordinated
there boundaries and/or limits to intelligence gathering
Can espionage be considered a tool to foster cooperation between nations to enhance
Should the United Nations be in charge of enforcing
of covert es
? If so, how should that be accomplished and within which agency? If not,
then who should enforce regulations?
2007. UN General Assembly 61
Session. General Assembly: Fourth Committee Home.
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“Digital Spies: The Alarming Rise of Electronic Espionage.”
. 24 January
2007. Harvard World Model UN: Special Political and Decolonization Committee.
“Intelligence.” WordNet. Aug 2007. Princeton University. 28 August 2008
“Intelligence Services.” Mar. 2006. Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces. 1
“Internal Intelligence Agencies Hungry for Deeper Cooperation from Skype.”
. 14 March
“The Ten Best Spy Agencies in the World.” Global Conflict Analysis. 13 May 2013