15 November 2019
SUBMITTED TO: Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC)
FROM: Russian Federation
SUBJECT: Private Military Contractors
DELEGATE: Sophia Papp, Royal Oak High School
Private military contractors are essential for enforcing security around the globe. As observed in the United Nations efforts to provide relief in conflict zones, such as in Somalia, privately contracted armed guards are a necessity to both protect civilians and humanitarian aid workers. The Aid Worker Security Database reports that in 2018 alone, 405 major attacks on aid workers occurred, 69 of which were on UN staff, emphasizing the need for PMCs for security.1 In addition to the protection of aid workers, PMCs play a key role in the protection of political figures, such as the protection of Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadéra by Wagner.2 The ability to employ the services of a PMC, as shown in the case of President Touadéra, provides an alternative method of security to receiving Western military aid, an ability that must be protected in order to minimize the influence of Western political pressure on African and Middle Eastern nations.
While private military contractors prioritize maintaining peace, the abuse of military power and disregard for civilian rights witnessed in events such as the Nisour Square massacre highlight a need for accountability and proper military training. The most effective means of accountability for PMCs are regulations at the national level, through which PMCs are examined and legally charged if they are in violation of domestic national law. Given the privatized nature of such contractors, it must be emphasized that PMCs act independently of the nation in which they are based, and that therefore it is the private contractor that it is to be ultimately held accountable within their national judicial system. The violation of humanitarian rights by PMCs can ultimately be accounted for by poor military training and insufficient education on behalf of the PMC. As asserted by Journalist Pratap Chaterjee at a meeting of the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, “Contractors hired for translation and interrogation are often unqualified and ill-trained in human rights standards. Many people are imprisoned, in large part because of poor translation. Chaterjee suggests a number of recommendations that he feels the UN Working Group on Mercenaries should adopt to try and provide “best practice” guides and to “name and shame” PMSCs that violate international law.”3 Such shortcomings can be addressed by international standards for conduct, perhaps a method of licensing PMCs assessed by an unbiased UN research body, such as the UN Working Group on Mercenaries, to have met ethical standards of enforcing security.
While the United Nations Mercenary Convention outlines what qualifies as “mercenaries” and prohibits their use, it is deeply flawed in its inability to recognize the necessity of recruiting military services from abroad to secure peace, in its unreasonably broad interpretation of what constitutes as unlawful use private military contractors, and lastly in its crippling lack of international support. Rather than banning the use of any private armed personal, the committee should recognize the frequent use of acceptable PMCs and focus on working to address the conduct and operations of PMCs. After all, PMCs are often employed where the United Nations has failed to secure peace in a timely and cost efficient manner, suggesting that their very use is sometimes the result of a failure of the international community to determine an alternative to their use.
The Russian Federation looks forward to working with the members of the DISEC committee to work towards developing a comprehensive mechanism of holding private military contractors to humane standards, in respect to their right as private entities to conduct military operations to secure global peace.
- Sophia Papp