Document Type : Article


Associate Prof., Department of Law, Faculty of Economics & Admiristrative Sciences, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran


Espionage has been exercised throughout world history. By the new advancements in technology and emergence of the phenomenon of terrorism and taking necessary measures against it, however, it has gained its particular complexities and leading to many international disputes. International law distinguishes between peacetime and wartime espionage. In peacetime, it applies principle of separation of national and international jurisdictions and consequently that of State equality. Therefore, any intervention including through espionage entailing aggression against State national jurisdiction is considered as unlawful. The principle of equality of States implies non-intervention by States in each other’s affairs. Nevertheless, in new international legal order there exist certain instances of justified interventions including through espionage such as interventions permitted by the UN Security Council when collective peace and security of the world demands; intervention for self-defence; intervention by invitation; and intervention for humanitarian and human rights purposes. In war time, under certain circumstances, espionage is recognized as a legitimate ruse of war. There is an urgent need to have a world document for codification of provisions governing espionage and its new forms including cyber espionage and espionage violating the individual’s privacy. Espionage has become a global issue and therefore a new treaty can identify the instances of legitimate and illegitimate espionage.


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