Control Private Military and Security Companies
A New Global Civil Society Campaign
PRESS RELEASE For immediate release: 29/08/2012 Statement about the contribution of the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative to the second session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group to consider the possibility of elaborating an international regulatory framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies, Geneva, Switzerland, 13 to 17 August, 2012.
Representatives of the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative [ICSSI] attended meetings of the open-ended intergovernmental working group to consider international regulation, monitoring and oversight of private military and security companies [PMSCs] in order to present a declaration in support of a legally binding international convention to oblige States to regulate PMSCs[i]. Prior to this meeting at the headquarters of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, the ICSSI, in collaboration with one of its members, NOVA, released a study documenting the extensive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that occurred during and after the years of occupation and war in Iraq[ii]. The ICSSI is now launching a global civil society campaign, the International Coalition to Control PMSCs, in order to build stronger and wider support among NGOs throughout the world to regulate the PMSC sector.[iii]
The ICSSI maintains that in light of the dramatic increase in States’ reliance upon PMSCs, the extent of human rights and other abuses they have committed, the impunity under which most PMSCs operate, and the lack of remedy for their victims, a legally binding international convention should be adopted. ICSSI members call for this convention as necessary to defend the rule of law, the responsibility of States to promote and respect international human rights and humanitarian law, and the fundamental rights and freedoms that define democracy. Without such a convention, the international community will remain unable to impose clear and enforceable legal standards concerning the operations and actions of PMSCs. Representatives of 72 countries, as well as the European Union and the African Union, experts and specialists, along with representatives of non-governmental organizations, including the ICSSI delegation, attended the meeting in Geneva. States were divided over the best strategies for addressing the abuses and violations of PMSCs. Countries including Russia, Egypt, Pakistan South Africa and Venezuela, amongst others, support a new, legally binding, international convention. While the U.S. and the U.K. call for continuation of work on the “Montreux Document” [iv], which compiles existing international laws concerning PMSCs, and the elaboration of the ”International Code of Conduct[v]” for PMSCs, a position the European Union largely supported. Interventions by technical and legal experts emphasized the existing gaps in international law and how the great number of nations employing these companies, and their activities in multiple countries has prevented accountability for PMSC violations of law. Some stressed that since the Code of Conduct is not legally binding it will not be sufficient to protect civilians from violations of PMSCs. They cited the many atrocities and crimes that occurred in Iraq, and that the victims of these abuses have not been able to hold U.S. and U.K. PMSCs accountable or to receive compensation for their injuries or the deaths of their family members. Other vital issues were raised including how PMSCs undermine the rule of law and threaten State monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Illegal trading in arms and trafficking operations that PMSCs have engaged in were also discussed. Experts noted that when such violations are exposed, companies have merely changed their names and continued to operate. More than six interventions during the meetings recommended a legally binding international convention.By the end of the session, there was no consensus, however. It was decided, therefore, to extend the work of the working group on the use of mercenaries for another two years in order to deal with the complexities of the legal issues raised by PMSCs. Therefore the ICSSI has pledged to expand its public awareness campaign about the dangers of these companies and the need to reverse the expansion of reliance on their services. The ICSSI sees a needto work on several levels: employer States must pass national legislation ensuring strict monitoring of PMSCs and providing mechanisms for holding them accountable for human rights and other violations. Meanwhile international civil society should continue to push for a binding international convention to regulate PMSCs.In this context, we call on all ICSSI members to jointheInternational Coalition to Control PMSCs, to gather information regarding violations carried out by these companies, whether local or international,andforinterested organizations and individuals to contribute to the panel discussion to be held on October 21 in Basra concerning this topic, as part of the NonviolenceForum[vi]. For more information write to :icssi.project @ gmail.com Orcontact one of our activists: Arabic: Ismail Dawood, 00393291345117 English: Terry Kay Rockefeller, 017816431486 or 016174604992 Italian:Martina Pignatti : 00393296599028