DCAF explores intelligence with integrity in Budapest

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (29 May, 2017) - John Le Carré, celebrated espionage author, once said that “the secret service remains the true reflection of the society it aims at protecting.” The PfP Consortium’s Security Sector Reform Working Group, led by defense insitution building experts at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF, Geneva), aims at transforming and reforming security institutions to better strengthen society in that spirit.

For the first time since 2005, DCAF embraced the topic of intelligence, this time approaching the subject not just from the point of view of democratic oversight and defense institution building, but from the point of view of integrity in practice. Philipp Fluri, co-chair of the SSR WG, said that this was a “new departure for DCAF.” The workshop “Intelligence Reform Best International Practices and Integrity in International Missions”, held in Budapest, Hungary, 22-23 May 2017, aimed at mapping the areas of concern to security service reformers from Georgia, Mongolia, and Ukraine.

The SSR WG workshop benefited from the experience of top level practitioners from Hungary, and also agency directors. Additional participants were Canadian parlimentarian Wayne Easter, MP for Malpeque, who was Canada’s previous Solicitor General and oversaw the Canadian Secret Intelligence Services (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and Irakli Beraia from Georgia, who chairs Georgia’s parliamentary standing security committee.

The aim of the workshop was to flesh out the areas that resisted reform, and to map out a plan to instill greater integrity in the business of intelligence among NATO Allies and Partners. One participant from Austria, lamented that civil society was only now getting interested in this subject. He opined that “…in today’s context intelligence gathering itself has become democratized, while the media have become a source of doubt. Therefore the national services of Allied and partner countries must develop trust in each other. This can only come from performing intelligence duties with integrity. The adage remains true, if we can trust the motive, we can trust the person. If we trust the person, we can trust the material. Intelligence remains essential to rational and more optimal political decision-making.”