Sign our Declaration to Control Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs)

Control PMSCs calls for the adoption of binding international and national regulations to limit the privatization of warfare and security, to regulate the activities of private military and security companies and hold these companies accountable for their human rights abuses and violations of the law

State employment of private military and security companies in conflict, post-conflict and non-conflict situations has expanded massively in the past decade. PMSCs now carry out military and security activities that were traditionally performed by public military and security forces, including interrogations of detainees, intelligence and armed guarding of military facilities. Furthermore, in addition to governments, PMSCs are increasingly employed by a wide range of clients including private corporations, non-governmental humanitarian organizations and international organizations such as United Nations.

This trend toward privatization of military and security operations has grown to such proportions that it threatens the sovereignty of States and with it their ability to safeguard fundamental human rights. Making security a commodity for sale undermines the responsibility of States to ensure the safety of all their citizens. At the same time, citizens find their nations’ private military and security activities shielded from public investigation and scrutiny. Without transparency and regulation of PMSCs, societies will experience erosion of the rule of law and the undermining of democratic institutions.

PMSCs have had a dramatic impact on human rights. Legal and factual studies on the massive use of PMSCs in Iraq and Afghanistan have documented human rights (HR) abuses committed by private contractors. These violations include torture, indiscriminate killing of civilians, and the breaches of contractors’ labour rights. In practice, despite these cases have been well documented, neither the companies nor the managers, and the employees have been held accountable or punished; as a result, victims have not obtained due reparation.

Confronted with this growing crisis of PMSC misconduct and impunity, the international community has, however, failed to respond. Existing international and national legal instruments are inadequate to hold companies accountable for human rights violations and/or have been weakly enforced in practice. On the other hand, self-regulation initiatives such us PMSC voluntary codes of conduct are themselves insufficient to protect victims, to ensure compensation for those mistreated or killed, or to prevent future abuses. If control of the highly globalized PMSC industry is to be effective, international cooperation and action are required.

In order to address these problems, States, international organizations and corporations should drastically reduce their reliance on PMSCs and adopt binding international and national legal instruments to regulate PMSC activities. This will end contractors’ impunity and provide avenues of redress for the victims of their abuses. We seek the support of all citizens of the world, the endorsement of civil society organizations, and the commitment of our governments WITH THE AIM TO:

  • Strengthen the responsibilities of States under international law, particularly International humanitarian and human rights law. States, and not the companies themselves, are the primary responsible for regulation, oversight and accountability of PMSC. Other initiatives may complement but do not replace the responsibility of States.
  •  States should end all moves towards the outsourcing of security and the privatisation of use of force, which is an intrinsic element of its sovereignty – an inherent State function – that cannot be delegated to private actors.
  •  Promote national laws and its enforcement to control PMSCs. The PMSC industry is not any kind of commercial sector. Most of their activities are linked to the use of armed force and/or are provided in violent contexts. States should determine, through national laws, concrete human rights standards applicable to PMSC sector by establishing license, authorization and export systems.
  • Establish monitoring, accountability and jurisdictional mechanisms for PMSCs activities. Due to the environments where they operate and the lack of a clear chain of command, PMSCs performance is often without supervision, giving rise to grave human rights violations, which are later, not prosecuted. Immunity provisions, lack of corporate responsibility within national (criminal) laws and multiple or absent jurisdictions are among the obstacles for the accountability of PMSCs and their personnel and its enforcement. In line with the duty to exercise due diligence, States should enforce their obligation to prevent, investigate and prosecute human rights abuses, and punish offenders.
  • Reinforce the obligations of States regarding reparations. The obligation to make reparations encompasses restitution, compensation and rehabilitation. States are under a due diligence obligation to provide victims with an effective remedy, including access to justice. In this regard, States must ensure through their national laws that PMSC can be held liable under criminal and civil laws and also compensate and provide restitution for victims.

As defenders of the rule of law, and the fundamental rights and freedoms that define democracy, the signatories of this declaration support the regulation of PMSCs‘ activities through the adoption of binding international and national regulations, including an international independent monitoring and grievances mechanism, in order to encourage greater consistency in the control of PMSCs and provide legal avenues in case where States fail to adopt national legislation

  Sign the declaration here