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Artemy Zhdanov
Artemy Zhdanov

Privatizing War: Private Military And Security ... VERIFIED



With the approach of the twentieth anniversary of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security (WPS), emerging global peace and security challenges are increasingly being recognized as part of this agenda. Among these challenges is the exponential growth of private military and security companies (PMSCs) and, with this, the growing privatization of war.




Privatizing War: Private Military and Security ...


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Since the end of the Cold War, the outsourcing of military and security by armed forces activities has shifted from the exception to the rule. Moreover, this growth goes hand in hand with a regulatory gap around PMSCs and their activities which makes it challenging to hold private contractors accountable to human rights standards. As PMSCs take on more significant roles and are being deployed in greater numbers in conflict contexts, those working for the implementation of the WPS agenda should include this reality in their work, recognizing it as an emerging challenge to international peace and security.


Research efforts to understand the operation of PMSCs, and to monitor their activities and impact, have expanded as the use of PMSCs has grown exponentially. Some civil society organizations have published reports on the gendered impact on PMSCs and created advocacy campaigns to raise awareness and to demand accountability as well as justice for victims of contractors. In April 2019, the Working Group on the use of mercenaries held an expert consultation to discuss the gender dimensions of the private military and security industry, resulting in a report that sheds light on the gendered impacts of the industry and intends to be the starting point of a longer conversation at the UN level.


The privatization of war phenomenon is likely to keep growing over the next decades as dependency on private contractors increases. The WPS community can do better to address the challenges that this emerging phenomenon brings to international peace and security by coordinating efforts. This includes through conducting further research and increasing the available data, and advocating for the development and implementation of regulation measures that both strengthen and harmonize existing PMSCs legal frameworks and mainstream gender.


We should not overlook how collaborations between WPS and other security-related political frameworks have succeeded in challenging notions that military and security actors have a monopoly of expertise in areas such as arms control.


With the US intervention in Iraq in 2003, private military and security companies (PMSCs) became one of the most important partners of the United States and contractor personnel even became the second largest group within the coalition forces. After 2003, US administrations tried to externalize the increasing economic, humanitarian and political costs of the Iraq War through contractor personnel. While the contracted personnel fought in Iraq alongside the US forces before 2011, they replaced the US forces in the country after 2011. Although US administrations could offload some of the burden of their work through the PMSCs and their contracted personnel, human rights violations of contracted personnel undermined the reputation of the US in Iraq and the region. Contractor personnel also became a part of the increasing violence in Iraq as they themselves became targets and responded in turn and thus they became an important party of the increasing violence in the country. The privatization of security in Iraq through the US also transformed the concept of security and caused new security problems that are still being discussed. The legal status of and control over the PMSCs and their personnel, the exclusionary understanding about security and the marketization of security led to new security problems in Iraq, which was becoming an increasingly fragile country. The roles played by the PMSCs during the Iraq War also led to new theoretical and practical discussions in International Relations regarding the transformation of traditional security understanding and the monopoly on force.


The US military intervention in Iraq in 2003 led to new and important debates in terms of international relations. The benefits and harmful effects of private military and security companies (PMSCs) and their contracted personnel after 2003 gave rise to new discussions about US intervention in particular and the concept of security in general. The economic, humanitarian and political costs of the war during the US presence in Iraq increased each year. The economic cost of the Iraq war in 2008 was around 197 billion dollars, while the number of US troops in the country increased to 161,783 in the same year. In 2008, 63% of US public opinion regarded the military intervention in Iraq to be wrong. The increasing economic, humanitarian and political costs of the US during the post-2003 period have made the externalization of the burdens of this war significant, and the PMSCs and their contracted personnel have become prominent in this process. The Bush administration tried to externalize the rising costs of war by deploying an increasing number of contracted personnel in Iraq. Thanks to the PMSCs, a large number of contracted personnel were able to work in Iraq thereby reducing the cost, and contractor personnel even became the second largest group within the coalition forces. Moreover, with the increasing number of foreign and Iraqi contractors, the US could lower their casualties and in this way, the Bush administration externalized the humanitarian costs of the war. By externalizing the economic and humanitarian burdens of the war, the US administration tried to limit the reaction of the US public. Moreover, limited congress control over the contracted personnel also helped to externalize the political costs for the Bush administration. Although the Obama and Trump administrations have avoided costly military interventions, the PMSCs during these periods have continued to protect US interests in Iraq. After the Bush administration, the contractors replaced the US forces in Iraq and they are still operating in the country.


Although contracted personnel helped externalize some costs, problems caused by them resulted in new costs both for the US and Iraq. Both unauthorized use of force and human rights violations by contracted personnel undermined the US reputation in Iraq and strengthened antiUS trends within the country. Furthermore, issues such as coordination problems between the US forces and private companies in the conflict zones created additional costs for the US during the war. The PMSCs became an active party of the war in Iraq and they directly or indirectly affected the level of violence. The limited accountability of the contracted personnel in terms of national and international laws made the control of these companies an important issue, while the privatization of the security understanding via PMSCs led to the transformation of the concept of security in Iraq. Changing the wages of the contractors according to the level of violence in Iraq and the nationality of the contractors accelerated the marketization of security. While the privatization of security weakened the concept of public security, security in Iraq turned into a service that can be purchased. Although various regulatory mechanisms have been developed to prevent the problems caused by the PMSCs, it is not easy to operate these mechanisms in a fragile country like Iraq.


The involvement of the PMSCs in an international military intervention has also raised new questions about international security. Deliberate outsourcing of military functions to private companies by states has led to new debates about both the state monopoly on force and the changing understanding of traditional security. The solutions to the new problems created by top-down privatization and its relations with the bottom-up privatization maintain their theoretical and practical importance and will continue to be important issues in International Relations, International Law and Security Studies.


A private military company (PMC), private military and security company (PMSC) or mercenary organization is a private company providing armed combat or security services for financial gain. PMCs refer to their personnel as "security contractors" or "private military contractors".


The services and expertise offered by PMCs are typically similar to those of governmental security, military, or police but most often on a smaller scale. PMCs often provide services to train or supplement official armed forces in service of governments, but they can also be employed by private companies to provide bodyguards for key staff or protection of company premises, especially in hostile territories. However, contractors that use armed force in a warzone may be considered unlawful combatants in reference to a concept that is outlined in the Geneva Conventions and explicitly stated by the 2006 American Military Commissions Act.[1]


The services of private contractors are used around the world. P. W. Singer, the author of Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, stated, "In geographic terms, it operates in over 50 countries. It's operated in every single continent but Antarctica." Singer noted that in the 1990s, there were 50 military personnel for every contractor and that the ratio is now 10 to 1. He also pointed out that the contractors have a number of duties, depending on who hires them. In developing countries that have natural resources, such as oil refineries in Iraq, they are hired to guard the area. They are hired also to guard companies that contract services and reconstruction efforts such as General Electric.


Modern PMCs trace their origins back to a group of ex-SAS veterans in 1965 who, under the leadership of the founder of the SAS, Sir David Stirling and John Woodhouse, founded WatchGuard International (formerly with offices in Sloane Street before moving to South Audley Street in Mayfair) as a private company that could be contracted out for security and military purposes.[6] 041b061a72


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