|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Chair of Working Group on Use of Mercenaries
A new legally binding international framework was urgently needed to regulate the use and activities of private military and security companies and to adequately address human rights violations, said the chair of the Working Group on the issue, at a Headquarters press conference today.
After presenting his report to the Third Committee (see Press Release GA/SHC/4084), Anton Katz, Chair of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, told reporters that existing national legislation was inadequate to tackle the challenges posed by private military and security companies.
“This has resulted in divergent regulatory approaches at the national level and has created regulatory gaps, which by its very nature may be a potential source of human rights violations,” Mr. Katz underscored.
The outsourcing of security by States to such companies had also created risks for human rights, he said. Given the absence of a legally binding international instrument, there was little guidance on how to address the phenomenon. “Recent events in several parts of the world clearly demonstrate that mercenaries remain a threat, not only to security but also to human rights and the rights of peoples to self-determination.”
He also said that the continuing activities of mercenaries along Cote d’Ivoire’s border with Liberia, the detention of alleged mercenaries in Libya and the reference by Syria’s Permanent Representative of the “aggravating” role played by mercenaries in that country were all of concern. However, States needed to cooperate in order to ensure accountability in the use of private military and security companies.
Responding to questions on visitations, he said that the Group had conducted country visits to Somalia in December 2012 and to Honduras in February of this year. It had also requested visits to Bolivia, Chad, Colombia, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mexico and Papua New Guinea.
Mr. Katz noted that the planned mission to Libya in May this year had been postponed due to security concerns. The five-member group had also received an invitation and intended to visit Syria as soon as its security situation improved.
Responding to another question, he acknowledged the value of the Montreux Document in affirming the legal obligation of home, host and contracting States under international humanitarian and human rights laws on the activities of the private military and security companies in armed conflicts.
Nonetheless, he said, that the document was an incomplete solution to the regulatory gaps. An independent, self-governing civil society body was needed, one which had the authority to adopt membership procedures to ensure that only appropriately vetted individuals were eligible to be contracted as security officers. The successful regulation of private military and security companies required a robust and multilayered approach.
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