On 5 April, Westminster Law School hosted a seminar titled Peacetime Espionage and International Law with Asaf Lubin.

Asaf is a Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD) candidate at Yale Law School and a Robert L Bernstein International Human Rights Fellow with Privacy International.

Asaf offered a new three-layered normative framework for analysing espionage under international law. The approach looks at regulation at three temporal stages: before the launching of the intelligence operation (the Jus Ad Explorationem), during the operation (the Jus In Exploratione), and following it (the Jus Post Explorationem).

Asaf began by introducing the controversial claim that there exists a derivative right for all sovereign nations to engage in peacetime intelligence gathering. Then, he proceeded to addressing the Jus In Exploratione, which looks at the regulation of the choice of means employed by States in engaging in intelligence gathering. Asaf concluded his presentation by briefly mentioning the third arm of his legal analysis, the Jus Post Explorationem, focusing on the question of whether international criminal law can play any role in regulation espionage operations after the fact.

Two discussants commented on Asaf's paper. First, Dr Marco Longobardo (a Research Fellow in Public International Law, University of Westminster and an Adjunct Professor of International Law and EU Law, University of Messina) analysed Asaf’s claim regarding the existence of an autonomous right to engage in peacetime intelligence gathering in light of other primary and secondary rules of international law (in particular with respect of the law of armed conflict, Jus Ad Bellum, and the law of state responsibility).

The second discussant, Eliza Watt (a PhD Candidate at Westminster Law School), evaluated a number of aspects of Asaf's approach to the issue of mass cyber surveillance. She focused on the legal bases for a different set of privacy protection for foreign, compared to domestic, surveillance under the international human rights framework, together with the utility of a separate human rights instrument tailored to these activities, including bulk surveillance warrants.

The event was chaired by Professor Marco Roscini (Professor of International Law, University of Westminster) and was part of the International Law at Westminster Seminar Series.

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