International cooperation between oversight bodies

While the cooperation between the intelligence and security services has entered a period of intensification and innovation, the cooperation between oversight bodies is still in its infancy. A first joint project was initiated in 2015. In this project, the oversight bodies of five countries conducted a similar investigation, each from their own national context and within the framework of their own mandate, and they compared their results and experiences. The topic chosen for the investigation was the exchange of data on (alleged) jihadists between intelligence and security services. The CTIVD published its own report on this investigation on 28 March 2018.

In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the oversight bodies of Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands shared experiences obtained from their own national investigations into this topic, which resulted in a more in-depth understanding and a more complete overview of the international cooperation between intelligence and security services. The five oversight bodies established the risk of an ‘oversight gap’ because the oversight of international cooperation is still national in nature. In a joint statement the oversight bodies therefore called on national legislators to lower the main obstacle to cooperation, which is the secrecy regarding the activities of intelligence and security services in this area.

The five oversight bodies will continue to cooperate closely with each other, sharing best practices in oversight and discussing the current topics that affect each of them.

In 2019, the British oversight body joined the cooperative partnership. The meetings of this partnership are aimed at discussing current legal and technical issues that are relevant to each of the participating oversight bodies and at sharing best practices in oversight. The priority in this area is improvement of each body’s oversight methods.

In December 2019, six oversight bodies signed a so-called charter, that consolidates the cooperation under the name Intelligence Oversight Working Group. The secretariat of the cooperative partnership was placed at the CTIVD until May 2020.

In October 2022, two Swedish oversight bodies were added to the Charter and are now included in the Working Group. 

Cooperating oversight bodies

  • Belgian Standing Intelligence Agencies Review Committee (Comité permanent de contrôle des services de renseignements et de sécurité / Vast Comité van Toezicht op de inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdiensten) – (Belgium);
  • Danish Intelligence Oversight Board (Tilsynet med Efterretningstjenesterne) – (Denmark);
  • Review Committee on the Intelligence and Security Services (Commissie van Toezicht op de Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdiensten) – (The Netherlands);
  • EOS Committee – The Norwegian Parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Committee (EOS-utvalget) – (Norway);
  • Swedish Commission on Security and Integrity Protection (Säkerhets- och integritetsskyddsnämnden) –  (Sweden);
  • The Swedish Foreign Intelligence Inspectorate (Statens inspektion för försvarsunderrättelseverksamheten) – (Sweden);  
  • Independent Oversight Authority for Intelligence Activities (OA-IA) (Unabhängige Aufsichtsbehörde über die nachrichtendienstlichen Tätigkeiten AB-ND) – (Switzerland);
  • Investigatory Powers Commissioner's Office – (United Kingdom).