UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has announced he will launch an inquiry into allegations that British secret service agents spied on foreign governments at two consecutive international climate summits in 2009 and 2010.
Speaking to Danish television, Ban Ki-moon said the allegations were a UN issue, because the climate summits are UN conferences.
“All diplomatic information is inviolable. If there has been any breach … they should be investigated. UN information should be protected in its entire confidentiality,” he said.
The presentation, disclosed by former NSA senior analyst and whistleblower Edward Snowden, revealed it became a “serious intelligence priority” for Britain’s clandestine intelligence services to spy on negotiations brokered an international UN summits from 2007.
The 23-page PowerPoint presentation was first published by Swedish site Dagbladet Information.
The file entitled, “Supporting HMG’s (Her Majesty’s Government) Climate Change Ambitions,” states a GCHQ secret service official frequented the high profile UN gatherings, also attended by an array of international leaders.
The document indicates the spy reported to Downing Street, the foreign secretary, diplomats, the Department for International Development (DfID), the business department, the Treasury and MI5.
According to the file, the GCHQ official was planted in the UK delegation because such a cover would facilitate direct access to other state’s delegates along with useful documentation they were in possession of.
The spy’s remit, as outlined in the document, was to discern states’ climate policy leanings, report on how far they were prepared to broker on issues, uncover if foreign delegates poised at the UN negotiation table were receiving orders from their respective governments, and relay this information back to British officials to bolster Britain’s leverage at the climate talks.
While the talks failed spectacularly in 2009, the UK secret service operation was reportedly a success. States were expected to wrap up years of tenuous negotiations with a landmark cross-border agreement to curb carbon emissions.
Such actions could amount to a violation of international law, because UN climate conferences are officially declared to be UN territory throughout the negotiations.
Snowden’s disclosure could cause embarrassment to current leftist Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, who held the position of energy and climate change secretary in 2009. Miliband also led the British delegation at the UN Climate Summit in 2009.