From July 21-25, the UN in Geneva is holding a meeting of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the activities of private military and security companies (PMSCs) This goal of this session, called for by a resolution tabled by Cuba and the African Group, is “to consider the possibility of elaborating an international regulatory framework” for the oversight of private military and security companies. In addition, the agenda also includes another Cuban anti-Western favorite, “the use of mercenaries as a mean of violating human rights.”
During the discussion, the U.S., UK, and EU expressed their opposition to the idea, stating their concern with the lack of effectiveness and appropriateness of an intergovernmental regulatory system for this issue. They were also disappointed with the absence of representation from the business sector at these discussions. The US, though focusing mainly on PSCs rather than on both PSCs and PMCs, gave several other suggestions that they deemed more practical, such as methods for closer scrutiny, oversight, and approval of such companies on a national level and the promotion of appropriate prosecution for those who breach existing laws.
Several others including the African group, South Africa, Pakistan, Cuba, and Senegal argued the opposing view, stating the importance of international governance on this issue. Their reasoning followed that the transnational nature of PMSCs makes that self-regulation and domestic laws alone inefficient as monitors. Additionally, the state of impunity and lack of accountability in which the contractors of PMSCs live make the perpetration of human rights violations all the more possible, speaking again to the need for an internally binding instrument on this issue.
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