23 March 2020

On 5 March 2020, Abigail Watson, ORG's Research Manager, joined an expert panel at Chatham House to discuss the key themes of a new book by Jamie Gaskarth, who was recently a participant on ORG's podcast. Abigail’s co-panellists were Jo Hare, an ethics counsellor,
and Dr Claudia Hillebrand, a senior lecturer in International Relations at Cardiff University. The event was chaired by Professor Sir David Omand, a British former senior civil servant who served as the Director of the Government Communications Headquarters from 1996 to 1997.

The panel reflected on UK intelligence accountability in the 21st century, particularly on how democratic governments can hold intelligence and security agencies to account when their activities are mostly conducted in secret. In Abigail’s speech, she highlighted the problems of accountability in an era of remote warfare, where states support local and national forces to do the bulk of the frontline fighting through activities such as training, air support, deploying special forces and intelligence sharing.   

She unpicked the assumptions that the approach is politically risk-free and that it does not entail civilian harm, and then finished her presentation by arguing for greater oversight of the activities involved in remote warfare, including intelligence sharing. 

Image credit: Chatham House/Flickr.