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What is Citizen Inspection?
updated 05/19/10

Citizen Inspections are a means for citizens to verify that the actions of their governments are in compliance with current domestic laws, treaties, and international norms. The verification process serves as a popular check against illicit government activities and the perpetuation and normalization of potentially dangerous policies.

Open access to information
The purpose of an inspection is to achieve open and unrestricted access to non-classified information. All classified information essential to national security should be adequately safeguarded in a manner which does not impede access to non-classified information. In an open democratic society, barriers should not be placed around non-classified information under the guise of security. All citizens possess the fundamental right to acquire information regarding the activities of their government. Restricting any access to non-classified information is antithetical to the principles of an open and free society.

Citizen inspections facilitate democracy
The inspection process pushes society beyond the mere practice of symbolic democracy and allows citizens to become directly responsible for the oversight of government and military institutions. Members of the public are encouraged to actively seek all available information so that they can make fully informed political decisions.

In order to meaningfully fulfill the verification process, citizens peaceably and openly gain access to weapons facilities in order to gather non-classified data regarding status and purpose of all weapons research and design programs, military construction, weapons stockpile, and the implementation of policy. The results of these inspections are then be made publicly available so that the public are fully informed of the actions and intentions of their government.

The individual in the societal verification process
As an aspect of societal verification, the citizen inspection process "…is based on the involvement of the whole community, or broad groups of it, in contrast to the employment of highly specialized teams of experts required for technological verification."1 Citizens involved in the inspection process need not possess any specific technical or legal knowledge. Individuals are encouraged to seek access to information on their own. Inspections, for the purpose of gaining access to unclassified information, do not need to be organized or managed by larger organizations.

Open inspection v. managed inspection
Open inspections, scheduled and hosted by an organization, function much the same as individual citizen inspections. While the organization might be responsible for publicizing the inspections and generating popular support, it is still left to the members of the public to take the initiative and lead their own personal fact-finding missions. The organization calling for the event may provide detailed information on how to inspect and subsequently report their findings. The role of an organization in an open inspection is to encourage and inspire citizens to conduct their own investigations.


1. Joseph Rotblat, J Steinberger, B M Udgaonkar, "Societal Verification" in: A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: Desirable?, Feasible?, Boulder: Westview Press, 1993.

 


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