Disarmament and International Security Committee
Private Military Contractors
The People’s Republic of China
Gaurang P. Vaidya
Forest Hills Eastern
With the lingering threat of terrorists’ organizations and planned attacks against innocent civilians, China’s approach towards the spread of private military contractors is nuanced with its goal to protect Chinese citizens around the world. The world has seen a dramatic implementation of privatized security, with companies operating in 50 nations and the industry valued at nearly 702 billion Yuan (USD 100 Billion) (Tekingunduz). The problem arises when the corporate-minded private military contractors (PMCs) are not held responsible for their violations of humanitarian laws due to no preexisting mechanism to prosecute their actions under a universal international jurisdiction (Crowe). This leaves security corporations even less incentive to safeguard the human rights of civilians and instead focus on the mission of protecting the asset, continuing a vicious cycle of humanitarian abuse. Allowing PMCs free reign in armed conflict, as the status quo, may breed a similar situation to the British East India Company in mid-18 to the mid-19th century.
The Belt Road Initiative, brought about by the honorable President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, intends to link global economies from Asia, Europe, and Africa with power grids, highways, and other strategic infrastructure projects (Chatzky). With Chinese workers and engineers abroad working diligently to implement this, they must be protected from civil unrest and potential risk from invaders. To combat this problem, China has instituted consultants from Frontier Service Group who specialize in logistics of construction, security of the sites, and safety of the workers where the People’s Liberation Army cannot (Schmidt). This consultant group has stayed far from paramilitary operations, reinforcing that private consultants can be used for international construction projects that globalize the world rather than promoting warfare. Although harboring 4,000 registered private security companies, China understands and discourages the use of mercenaries due to their potential to abuse human rights and promote global unrest, as seen in Iraq. (“Private”, Sheikh). China has also publicly opposed mercenary activities globally, the Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Ma Zhaoxu saying, “mercenaries pose a threat to peace and stability” to the UN Security Council (Xinhua). In 2008 China aided the Government of Switzerland in formulating The Montreux Document, which set parameters on the usage of PMCs, instituted hopeful regulations, and addressed the legal questions. With expressed support from 52 other countries, it has unwavering support from China and poses new questions to the DISEC committee: How can PMCs be used to promote growth and development? Who must regulate the PMCs, and what is an acceptable use of PMCs? (“Montreux”)
The UN Mercenary Convention, written during the African decolonization, is now outdated due to new developments and the need for private security by nations and the United Nations. The DISEC committee must develop a comprehensive to accommodate for the global changes in demand for reliable security while still protecting human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. China suggests that this committee establishes the acceptable use for PMCs in the situation of promoting infrastructure throughout the world and for the security of humanitarian aid workers. The UN should advise against the use of mercenaries due to their history of humanitarian abuse, as seen in Syria and Iraq. Additionally, PMCs should have standardized uniforms, badges, and markings, resulting in decreased civilian confusion in ‘Home States.’ China also aims for PMCs to register with local authorities, presenting their agreement with the ‘Contracting States’ for that deployment. Finally recommends that Officers of the Human Rights Council establish a PMCs regulatory agency that will protect civilian human rights and ensure that PMCs are acting accordingly under newly produced international legislation (“Officers”). The DISEC committee must act with caution, ensuring nations’ national sovereignty and right to self-determination.
Chatzky, Andrew, and James McBride. “China’s Massive Belt and Road Initiative.” Council on Foreign Relations, ForeginAffaris.com, 21 May 2019, www.cfr.org/backgrounder/chinas-massive-belt-and-road-initiative.
Crowe, Jonathan and John, Anna, The Status of Private Military Security Companies in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations Under the International Law of Armed Conflict (December 19, 2017). Jonathan Crowe and Anna John, ‘The Status of Private Military Security Companies in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations under the International Law of Armed Conflict’ (2017) 18 Melbourne Journal of International Law 16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3090583
“Montreux Document – a Process Aimed at Governments.” Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, 5 Aug. 2015, www.business-humanrights.org/en/conflict-peace/special-initiatives/initatives-on-private-military-security-companies/montreux-document-a-process-aimed-at-governments.
“Officers of the Human Rights Council’s Thirteenth Cycle (2019).” OHCHR, www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/Bureau.aspx.
“Private Military Contractors.” GLICA.org, GLICA.org, 13 Nov. 2019, glica.org/private-military-contractors/.
Schmidt, Blake. “Blackwater Mercenary Prince Has a New $1 Trillion Chinese Boss.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 9 Feb. 2019, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-10/blackwater-mercenary-prince-has-a-new-1-trillion-chinese-boss.
Sheikh, Salman Rafi. “China’s Blackwater-Style Private Armies.” Asia Sentinel, 3 Sept. 2018, www.asiasentinel.com/econ-business/china-blackwater-style-private-armies/.
Tekingunduz, Alican. “Are Private Military Contractors Any Different from Mercenaries?” TRTWorld, 16 Oct. 2018, www.trtworld.com/americas/are-private-military-contractors-any-different-from-mercenaries-20680.
Xinhua. “China Firmly Opposes Mercenary Activities in Africa, Says Chinese Envoy.” New China, 5 Feb. 2019, www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-02/05/c_137799740.htm.
- Gaurang P. Vaidya