Overseas Civilian Contractors

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Legally binding controls needed for private security contractors, say UN experts

UN News Center 8 July 2011 –

A group of independent United Nations experts today called for the adoption of binding international regulations to control the activities of private security companies.
José Luis Gómez del Prado, the Chairman of the UN Working Group on Mercenaries, told a news conference at UN Headquarters that “the international community needs clarification on the jurisdiction” of such companies.

Mr. Gómez said there is a legal “gap” between recognized international conventions on the use of mercenaries, and the control of private security companies that are often used by governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Working Group had already submitted proposed legislation to the General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva which were being discussed at the expert level.

Mr. Gómez said that many countries had proposed self regulation and codes of conduct, but the panel is proposing a specific international instrument that would be agreed on by national governments.

“What we are proposing is a binding instrument for States that is very clear” to include licensing, national and international monitoring of activities and civil and criminal laws regulating them.

The instrument, he said, would also have measures specifically to deal with victims.

Noting that four years after the killing of 17 civilians in Nissour Square in Iraq, the case against the alleged perpetrators is still pending in United States courts, he said “The victims don’t receive justice.”

The panel visited Iraq last month and urged the Iraqi Government to prioritize the adoption of legislation regulating security companies that has been pending since 2008.

“While US troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of the year, security contractors are there to stay. The urgency to regulate their activities couldn’t be greater,” he said today.

Alexander Nikitin, a member of the Working Group, said the different methods of control for private security companies in Iraq and Afghanistan highlighted the need for international standards.

The Group reports to the Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity

Press Conference by Working Group on Use of Mercenaries, Following Iraq Trip

July 8, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions, Mercenaries, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, United Nations | , , , , | Leave a comment

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