Essays on Espionage and International Law

Essays on Espionage and International Law

Essays on Espionage and International Law

Essays on Espionage and International Law

Excerpt

Traditional international law is remarkably oblivious to the peacetime practice of espionage. Leading treatises overlook espionage altogether or contain a perfunctory paragraph that defines a spy and describes his hapless fate in the event of capture. And yet espionage has always played a prominent role in international relations. Five thousand years ago Egypt had a well-organized secret service. King Thutmose III rescued the besieged city of Jaffa by smuggling into it two hundred soldiers sewn in flour sacks. The Greeks used the Trojan Horse to win their long war with Troy, and Joan of Arc was betrayed by a spy who was serving the English king. Singer in his history of espionage observes that "there never has been a war without spies, and there never has been a peace in which spies have not engaged in preparations for a future war." And yet international law is virtually silent.

Why should this be so? Despite the widespread practice of espionage, it is a clandestine activity with which a commissioning state ordinarily has no visible or explicit contact. As Lauterpacht observes, "a spy cannot . . .

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