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Declaration on the Right to Peace: Issue Paper on Private Security and Private Military Companies
February 20, 2013

Issue Paper on Private Security Companies and Private Military Companies

Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group
on a Draft United Nations Declaration on the Right to Peace,
first session (18-21 February 2013)

February 19, 2013

Thank you Mr. Chairperson.

We would like to take this opportunity to offer some general views on the inclusion in the Advisory Committee’s draft declaration of provisions related to private security companies and private military companies.

We recognize that there is a human rights dimension to this issue and we agree that accountability where PSCs or PMCs commit human rights abuses is very important.  Our concerns about addressing these issues in this Declaration are primarily those of redundancy and potential inconsistency with other efforts in the field.  This issue is being handled in other fora – namely, the IGWG on PSCs and PMCs under the Human Rights Council, the report of which we will hear at the next session of the HRC, and in connection with the Montreux Document on Pertinent International Legal Obligations and Good Practices and the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers.   Moreover, as we have noted on other occasions, because the relationship with, and impact of, these industries varies from state to state, it is our view that national-level regulation, based on informed consideration and open deliberation, is the most appropriate and effective way to promote greater respect for human rights by these industries.  This domestic focus is appropriate because, when operating outside of armed conflict, PSCs and PMCs are primarily regulated by domestic law.

I should also add that on the international plane, what we think is needed is better implementation of existing international law and sharing of experiences between states with regard to how they address human rights related impacts of PSC and PMC activities.  For a number of issues addressed by this draft Declaration, what would best contribute to the cause of peace is better implementation of existing obligations and sharing of good practices in that regard, not efforts to elaborate new rules.  Indeed, we were surprised to see in the draft Article 6 of the Declaration some of the same flaws that characterize the draft Convention on this issue prepared by the Working Group on Mercenaries.  For instance, the draft does not adequately distinguish PSCs from PMCs and from mercenaries and reopens discussion surrounding what should be considered an ‘inherently governmental function.’

In conclusion, we were pleased at the richness of the discussion at the last session of the IGWG on PMSCs and would hesitate before seeking to debate those issues here, too.  We also hope that we can refocus our discussion on the way in which implementation of existing law can further our shared commitment to peace.

Thank you Mr. Chairperson.