Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Beyond WikiLeaks: The Privatization of War

by: Jose L. Gomez del Prado, UN Working Group on Mercenaries, t r u t h o u t | Report

The United Nation Human Rights Council, under the Universal Periodic Review, started in Geneva on November 5, 2010 to review the human rights record of the United States. The following is an edited version of the presentation given by Jose L. Gomez del Prado in Geneva on November 3, 2010 at a parallel meeting at the UN Palais des Nations on that occasion.

Private military and security companies (PMSC) are the modern reincarnation of a long lineage of private providers of physical force: corsairs, privateers and mercenaries. Mercenaries, which had practically disappeared during the 19th and 20th centuries, reappeared in the 1960s during the decolonization period, operating mainly in Africa and Asia. Under the United Nations, a convention was adopted which outlaws and criminalizes their activities. Additionally, Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions also contains a definition of mercenary.

These non-state entities of the 21st century operate in extremely blurred situations, where the frontiers are difficult to separate. The new security industry of private companies moves large quantities of weapons and military equipment. It provides services for military operations, recruiting former military as civilians to carry out passive or defensive security.

However, these individuals cannot be considered civilians, given that they often carry and use weapons, interrogate prisoners, load bombs, drive military trucks and fulfill other essential military functions. Those who are armed can easily switch from a passive-defensive to an active-offensive role and can commit human rights violations and even destabilize governments. They cannot be considered soldiers or supporting militias under international humanitarian law, either, since they are not part of the army or in the armed forces chain of command, and often belong to a large number of different nationalities.

PMSC personnel cannot usually be considered to be mercenaries, for the definition of mercenaries as stipulated in the international conventions dealing with this issue does not generally apply to the personnel of PMSCs, which are legally operating in foreign countries under contracts of legally registered companies.

Please read the entire Report here

December 26, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, United Nations, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Narrowing PMC Legal Ambiguity

David Isenberg at Huff Post

For many years both supporters and critics of private military and security contractors have agreed that PMC legal status is ambiguous. As they are neither regular military forces or classic mercenaries it has often been unclear whether, and, how laws, especially international humanitarian law (IHL), can be used to prosecute them, if they do something wrong.

The international laws that exist, such as the Geneva Conventions, or the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, and regional conventions, were formulated with classic mercenaries in mind. Thus, they are generally viewed as inapplicable for use in determining criminal liability.

But a recent paper argues that there is room for hope, Ottavio Quirico argues that, under certain circumstances, private security contractors can be de facto assimilated to subjects formally classified under IHL. In this light, the ambiguous legal status of private security personnel with respect to war should have a limited impact on criminal liability.

His paper is, “War Contexts: The Criminal Responsibility of Private Security Personnel” published earlier this year by the European University Institute in Italy.

His conclusion is:

Overall, the ambiguous status of private contractors under IHL could often be overcome by assimilating de facto their position to that of formally classified parties, In this light, the uncertainty of the official qualification should have a limited impact on criminal liability. The propriety of the current national and international regulation applying to the criminal responsibility of PSC personnel can be questioned from the viewpoint of both equity and completeness. In theory, it affords multiple means for trying PSC personnel responsible for war crimes or direct participation in hostilities. In practice, the unwillingness or incapacity of States to prosecute proves a major obstacle for the efficiency of the system. By overcoming the frame of State sovereignty, the ICC [International Criminal Court] provides appropriate mechanisms for implementing the existing rules, but its jurisdiction is limited by the founding Treaty.

Original Here

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May 3, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment