Macquarie University
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The securitization of secrecy: the role of leaks in determining the function of secrecy in international relations

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posted on 2022-03-28, 02:52 authored by Sean Conner
The recent events of low-level government employees, disclosing secret information to both traditional and non-traditional media publishers has been responded to by the Obama administration with an increase in the number of prosecutions being executed.Such events have led to questions concerning the role of secrecy in International Relations. Using the Copenhagen School’s conceptual framework of securitization, and Gibbs’ theoretical approaches of the use of secrecy in general in International Relations, this thesis discusses to what extent unauthorized disclosures reveal information about the role secrecy plays in the International Sphere. The securitizing moves of government agencies in seeking to prevent whistleblowers and leakers from disclosing confidential information, and the reverse attempts of privacy advocates and tech companies attempting to securitize the issue of online privacy, demonstrate how this issue has moved into cyberspace. Individualsand organizations on both sides of the debate have implemented extraordinary measures in their efforts to securitize the issue. Securitization theory provides the means and Gibbs’ theoretical approaches provide the motives as to why secrecy is of such importance between governments and competing agencies. After discussing the issue, this thesis concludes that unauthorized disclosures tend to support the notion that secrecy is a valuable tool, not to prevent external enemies from understanding a state’s capabilities, but rather to prevent internal agencies from disrupting the executive branch’s objectives. As such, secrecy can be viewed as a tool to concentrate power in the elite, away from the general population, contrary to the ideals of democracy.


Table of Contents

Chapter One. The nature of secrecy -- Chapter Two. The black market of communication -- Chapter Three. Securitization in the context of leaks -- Chapter Four. Secrecy and rthe exectutive branch -- 5. Conclusion.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 46-56

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Politics and International Relations

Department, Centre or School

Department of Politics and International Relations

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Steve Wood


Copyright Sean Conner 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




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