Committee: Disarmament and International Security
Topic: Private Military Contractors
Country: Hellenic Republic
Delegate: Josephine Koch, Forest Hills Northern High School
As private military contractors (PMCs) have come to play an increasingly important role in both domestic and international conflicts, there has been widespread debate about the ethics of hired soldiers. The use of PMCs has given rise to several international scandals, such as the Nisour Square Massacre and the Abu Ghraib Scandal, in which PMCs were accused of murdering and abusing civilians. On the other hand, PMCs are widely employed by the UN, who uses them to protect diplomats and provide humanitarian aid in war torn and unstable regions. In 1989, the UN established the Mercenary Convention, which prohibited the training and employment of “mercenaries.” Although the treaty entered into force in 2001, it was not ratified by any P5 members, and its scope and enforcement remain limited.
While Greece laments the detrimental failings of PMCs in the Nisour Square and Abu Ghraib affairs, it maintains that PMCs are vital to the defense of smaller, less powerful nations. Greece itself has often been threatened by neighbors such as Turkey, particularly during the Cyprus and Aegean conflicts. Consequently, Greece has been compelled to invest heavily in its military, including in PMCs, knowing that failure to do so will put it at a disadvantage to the more powerful nations who seek to exploit it. Currently, Greece spends 2.3% of its GDP on military expenditures, more than almost any other country in the EU. In addition, Greece requires a conscription of nine months for all males between the ages of 19 and 45. Because of Greece’s history of concern for its own stability, it is natural that an emphasis would be placed on the military sector, whether that be through funding, conscription, or the hiring of PMCs.
Furthermore, Greece, in conjunction with the EU as a whole, recognizes the instrumental role PMCs play in the security and service of the international community. The UN itself has increasingly relied on PMCs to act as peacekeepers in regions including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. While it is imperative to be cautious regarding the use of PMCs (both by the UN and other parties), it is also important to recognize the crucial role they play in peacekeeping and maintaining both domestic and international stability. Therefore, attempts to completely eliminate the use of PMCs should be handled warily.
Greece hopes to establish an international consensus that increases the responsibility and management of PMCs and condemns the atrocities attributed to them, while still keeping in mind the important role PMCs play in maintaining domestic security and furthering the international goals of stability and peace. When dealing with the issue of PMCs, we must not forget to acknowledge the instability and violence that would be rampant without them.
- Josephine Koch