The National Security Agency’s global spying activities have prompted 21 countries to seek a resolution against the United States at the United Nations.
The resolution would be the first major
international effort aimed at restraining the spy agency’s surveillance
programs against other nations, The Foreign Policy magazine reported.
Brazil and Germany are circulating a draft copy of the resolution to diplomats representing 19 other countries.
UN member states are “deeply concerned at human rights violations
and abuses that may result from the conduct of extra-territorial
surveillance or interception of communications in foreign
jurisdictions,” according to the draft.
“Emphasizing that illegal surveillance of private communications and
the indiscriminate interception of personal data of citizens
constitutes a highly intrusive act that violates the rights to freedom
of expression and privacy and threatens the foundations of a democratic
The global outrage over US government surveillance further spiked
after The Guardian -- citing a confidential memo obtained from American
whistleblower Edward Snowden - revealed that the NSA is illegally
eavesdropping on phone conversations of 35 world leaders.
Close American allies like France, Germany and Mexico, as well as
rivals like Cuba and Venezuela, are all targets of massive US
surveillance, according to the document.
German newspaper Der Spiegel said German chancellor Angela Merkel’s
mobile phone had been listed by the agency’s Special Collection Service
(SCS) since 2002 and her number was still on a surveillance list in June
The German foreign ministry said the UN resolution would be about the protection of privacy in electronic communication.
"It is very general, but we think this is a very important topic,
that's why we are drafting it. It is still at a very early stage, so we
don't know when it will be presented or if other countries will join," a
German foreign ministry spokesman said.
On Friday, European leaders expressed "deep concerns" about the NSA’s widespread spying on world leaders.
"A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field," the leaders warned in a statement.
On Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged that
Washington’s alliances around the world have taken a hit from the
revelations about the NSA programs.
"The revelations have clearly caused tension in our relationships
with some countries, and we are dealing with that through diplomatic
channels,” Carney said.
"These are very important relations both economically and for our
security, and we will work to maintain the closest possible ties," he
On Friday, the State Department announced that the US initiated a
review of its surveillance programs in order to "balance security needs
with privacy concerns."
However, individuals in the intelligence and defense community are
concerned that the NSA’s spying activities have proven too damaging.
"This is an example of the very worst aspects of the Snowden
disclosures," a former defense official with deep experience in NATO
told The Foreign Policy. "It will be very difficult for the US to dig
out of this, although we will over time. The short term costs in
credibility and trust are enormous."
The UN resolution is expected to be presented in front of the United
Nations General Assembly human rights committee before the end of the