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February 8, 2011
Disclosure of State Secrets Earns Noble Peace Prize Nomination: Wikileaks as Transforming Publishing into a Transnational Enterprise Promoting a Universal Freedom of Access to Information
In Freedom of the Press as a Universal Value? Clinton, Carter, Canada, and WikiLeaks, Ruthann Robson, Professor of Law & University Distinguished Professor, CUNY School of Law, writes that "the continuing controversy surrounding Wikileaks tests commitment to freedom of the press in many nations," Professor Robson calls attention to two recently published eBooks about newspapers dealing with Wikileaks: (1) The Guardian's Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy and the New York Times' Open Secrets: Wikileaks, War, and American Diplomacy. See also the NYT Magazine adapted introduction to Open Secrets by journalist Bill Keller.
Clay Shirky, a Berkman Center for Internet and Society fellow, explains how Wikileaks as a media outlet is transformative by being outside the national enforcement of state secret disclosures, unlike the traditional press. In his Guardian article, WikiLeaks has created a new media landscape, Shirky writes:
Because this tension [of state secrets v citizen oversight] between governments and leakers is so important, and because WikiLeaks so dramatically helps leakers, it isn't just a new entrant in the existing media landscape. Its arrival creates a new landscape. ... WikiLeaks allows leakers transnational escape from national controls. Now, and from now on, a leaker with domestic secrets has no need of the domestic press, and indeed will avoid leaking directly to them if possible, to escape national pressure on national publishers to keep national secrets.
And soon there will be OpenLeaks, founded by some members of the Wikileaks team with the objective of expanding coverage beyond WikiLeaks' tendancy to focus of US disclosures. From OpenLeaks news page:
The alpha phase began in January 2011, when we started testing with a small group of media organizations and NGOs. Our partners for this phase have already been selected and we shall describe our progression with them in the coming months. We plan to start the beta phase in the second half of 2011, when we shall open the door for more initiatives (ranging from media, to NGOs and unions; anyone who requires the service) chosen both by ourselves, and the public.
One has to wonder if national self-interest in the protection of state secrets will lead to some sort of UN convention on the international enforcement of their disclosure sometime in the future. And if so, how any such convention can be reconciled with Articles 19 and 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 28. Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
Noble Peace Prize Nomination for WikiLeaks. On First Amendment Law Prof Blog, Josie F. Brown (Univ. of South Carolina School of Law) reports that WikiLeaks has been nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Quoting from the Reuters report cited by Professor Brown:
Norwegian parliamentarian Snorre Valen said WikiLeaks was "one of the most important contributors to freedom of speech and transparency" in the 21st century.
"By disclosing information about corruption, human rights abuses and war crimes, WikiLeaks is a natural contender for the Nobel Peace Prize," Valen said.