Monday, February 11, 2013

Scope and Scale: Mercenaries and Militias

Have you investigated the scale (or scope) of the issue/phenomenon? Broadly speaking: how widespread is this “problem”? How many people/groups/states/regions are currently affected by it, and to what extent? Obviously, enumerating things like this depends on the definition used (see above) – so, how does varying the definition changes the answer to this scale/scope issue, and what can we make of that?
“Traditionally, ‘mercenaries’ were soldiers hired to fight in an armed conflict or to overthrow a Government, but in recent conflicts in Côte d’Ivoire and Libya, Governments had used foreign fighters against their own populations.” Says Faiza Patel the United Nations Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights of peoples to self-determination.
Under the UN definition, mercenaries per-say are located in parts of Africa and Latin America, more specifically Colombia, Sierra Leon and Uganda, many of which are hired by the State or companies. These mercenaries are mostly made up of foreigners who are paid to protect and participate in an armed conflict. In Colombia’s case particularly, private security companies (PSCs) have participated in an armed conflict, does that make them mercenaries? The line between what can be and not be considered a contracted private security company or a mercenary group is hazy because these groups have a tendency to engage in illegal scenarios.
-->
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2011/gashc4023.doc.htm

Iraq, U.A.E, Libya, Somalia, South Africa, Afghanistan, Mali, Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America has at some point over the past 100 years employed or housed mercenaries and private armies. The problem is to call a group of armed combants 'mercenaries' they must be considered by the international community an illegal armed group working for a state or a firm. G4S, for example, is the second largest private employer in the world hired by the American government to protect non-military convoys in Iraq but the company also has deals with 125 countries, is hired by firms in some of the most dangerous parts of Africa and Latin America providing heavily armed security, landmine clearance, military intelligence and training. 
While PSCs are being paid to protect and not engage in open hostilities they can fall into combat easily. If the official army of the host country, for instance, were to attack a convoy of civilians that is protected by a private security company during a time of war, is the army’s attack on the convoy by the rules of international laws considered legal engagement? Are private security personnel allowed to engage in this form of combat?
In 2009, Blackwater-known as Xe- under a U.S. goverment contract got involved in what is considered an illegal military engagement caused by a car that refused to stop, in response 17 civilians where killed in Baghdad. The United States has since been more cautious when dealing with these private security companies but that does not mean that they do not have them scattered around Iraq. More-importantly, most of these PSCs are often found in conflict and war zones. The French Foreign Legions, for instance, are hired soldiers to protect French interests over seas but by the UN definition are considered mercenaries. Needless to say, the French Legions are exempt under the clauses 47 of the UN Protocol, which is no suprise given that France is one of the 5 permanent members of the Security Council. Contractors like the CIA have in the past been responsible hiring mercenaries to operate and intervene in other countries affaris. To learn more go to
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/mercenaries-cia-expanded-role-contractors-legitimate/story?id=9302651
-->
http://en.legion-etrangere.com/index.php?block=0&titre=french-foreign-legion

-->
http://www.businessinsider.com/bi-mercenary-armies-2012-2?op=1
 
Militias, on the other hand, are typically considered armed groups like the Taliban, Hezbollah and FARC, who are generally found in the Middle East and Latin America. They are politically driven but have been associated with forms of terrorism. Hezbollah, in particular has widespread network, training civilians and insurgents in Brazil, Venezuela and the Southern Cone. The United States, similarly, has militias that are anti-government and are scattered through the west coast and south of the United States. Given how broad the definition of militias is, there is a lot of room to speculate who can be considered a militia, but militias in theory are civilians taking part in an armed conflict, and they are generally found wherever there is a military conflict or political instability. 
http://archive.adl.org/learn/ext_us/militia_m.asp?xpicked=4

Watch documentary:
-->
 

10 comments:

  1. In one of the earlier paragraphs you mentioned something about how mercenaries can be hired by companies . Can you give an example of when and how mercenaries have been utilized by private companies? and maybe how private companies use of mercenaries is perceived by state governments and the international community?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Slashley:

    Private Companies usually hire private security contractors to protect oil rigs, ships in Somalia and personnel working in potentially dangerous zones. Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) for example, was created to fight piracy in Somalia. In Mexico, companies are hiring PSCs to guard business executives from kidnapping gangs and extortionists. Overall, PSCs are known to use excessive violence but they are nonetheless considered a necessary form of protection for states and companies.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You mentioned that PSCs are commonly hired for security purposes but find themselves in armed conflict. Does participating in armed conflict make their presence illegal? If so, how is that generally dealt with since by definition most policies don't apply to them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Micayla:

    No, PSCs are allowed to be in an armed conflict they just aren't allowed to take part in combat without being fired upon. According the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers PSCs have to abide by their contract otherwise, they will be brought up on charges. To learn more go to:
    http://www.acq.osd.mil/log/PS/p_vault/DODI_302050_01Aug2011.pdf.

    P.s I will say that there have been scenarios in the past where states hire the PSCs to take part in combat. In which case, according to the Article 3 of the Geneva Convention, these PSCs would no longer be considered legal or illegal combants and if taken prisoners they would not be given POW statuts. Their right to engage in combat would be deemed legal or illegal according to the local laws.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The problem is that most of PSCs who take place in these armed conflicts are in failed states where laws are rarely ever enforced. Therefore, they can get away with murder.

    I hope that answers your question.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The basic definition you give of militias is that they are civilians taking part in an armed conflict. At what point to civilians cease being civilians and are considered active combatants? If the militias are made up of civilians, at what point does it become acceptable for a country like the United States to engage in conflict with them?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was a little bit surprised to read your point about the US having "anti-government" militias scattered throughout the west coast and south of the country. I don't remember discussing this in class and personally don't know anything about their existence. Could you give an example of when these American militias have shown their presence or some clues that you found pointing us toward the assumption that they do exist?

    ReplyDelete
  8. I was a little bit surprised to read your point about the US having "anti-government" militias scattered throughout the west coast and south of the country. I don't remember discussing this in class and personally don't know anything about their existence. Could you give an example of when these American militias have shown their presence or some clues that you found pointing us toward the assumption that they do exist?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Julian:

    To answer your question: civilians that take part in an armed conflict are considered combatants. The United States can engage in combat with militias if they see that the armed group poses a threat to national security.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Afrance:

    There have never been any instance per say that include moments where these militas have raised their weapons against the american government but we know they exist because there are books and websites written about them.

    http://www.cnn.com/search/?query=american+militias&x=19&y=3&primaryType=mixed&sortBy=relevance&intl=false

    The website I posted, for example, shows various books like American Militias: Rebellion, Racism & Religion. The other book I recommend is The Rise and Decline of the American Militia System by James B. Whisker

    ReplyDelete