September 16, 2019
 In Articles

Disarmament and International Security Committee

Private Military Contractors


Sreevas Ramakrishnan

Forest Hills Eastern


Private military contractors (PMCs) provide security services to the government and private organizations. Giving businesses the opportunity to outsource military and security functions has been a major trend in years today. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the U.S.S.R. sparked the movement on the reliance of PMCs. This important change with regard to the monopoly on the legitimate use of force has been primarily implemented in western countries in the context of the anarchical globalization of the world economy. The private military and security industry has taken advantage of the reduction of national armies and the globalization of the economy to find a profitable niche and grow it into a powerful global phenomenon estimated at over $100 billion yearly (del Prado). The international community must work together to establish regulations regarding the use of PMCs by the United Nations and individual nations.

Portugal rejects the term PMC. According to the Eurpoean Parliament, our delegation believes that “the connotations of the state monopoly on violence and of national armed forces inherent in the word ‘military’ lead to confusion if applied to private businesses.” In the documents of many European armed forces, PMCs are referred to as ‘civilian contractors’ in order to distinguish them from soldiers. In Portugal, private companies are not permitted to “engage in research, planning, testing, manufacturing or overhaul of equipment exclusively intended for military purpose.” The construction of combat aircraft, helicopters, and warships was also limited to nationally owned companies, although component manufacture could be subcontracted to private firms. 

In order to decrease abuses and wrongdoings by these contractors, the international community must collaborate to implement legislation concerning the limits of the acceptable use of contractors. Although the United Nations implemented an international law called the United Nations Mercenary Convention, it was concluded in 2001. This initial step addressed the concern with PMCs, but failed to create a sustainable law for all countries to follow. The country of Portugal dislikes the use of PMCs because it confuses and mixes private businesses and the military. Portugal urges the UN to enforce more legislation similar to the UN Mercenary Convention concerning PMCs and their actions because they can play a vital role in the world and provide security for humanitarian aid. 


  • Sreevas Ramakrishnan

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