United Nations Using Mercenaries Accused of Human Rights Violations

United Press Intentional reports that the Global Policy Forum has released a report critical of the United Nations use of private security contractors. UN officials reportedly defended the use of private military and security firms, and said that the international organization intends to continue using the firms. The report is a “response to a growing culture of private security companies mushrooming across the world, often staffed by native staff that appeared even less accountable because of close ties with local governments, intelligence agencies, militias and organized crime.”

Dangerous Partnership: Private Military & Security Companies and the UN, examines the use of private security contractors by the UN. Written by Lou Pingeot, the Program Coordinator at Global Policy Forum, the report lays out how private security contractors are used and what concerns this use creates, as well as providing conclusions and recommendations. According to the report, the use of private security contractors by the UN has increased; rising 73% in one year from $44 million in 2009 to $76 million in 2010. At the same time the UN has increased use of private security firms they have not been transparent as the report states that “great opacity surrounds the UN’s use of these companies.”

The dark history of private security companies is noted in the report. Controversial names Blackwater, DynCorp, Aegis, and ArmorGroup have often appeared in the headlines of stories about the shadowy practices of private security companies. Fafo, a Norway-based foundation studying at labor and international issues, concluded in a 2006 study that “the [private security] industry is largely unregulated and unaccountable” In 2008, Human Rights First denounced the United States’ role in the use of private security contractors, characterizing it as an “abject failure…to control their actions or hold them criminally responsible for acts of excessive violence and abuse.”

In the end the report concludes that “the question of PMSCs is the question of what the UN is today and what it might become. Loosening the grip of the military and security companies poses a core challenge for those who seek reform and renovation of the world body. Only by ridding itself of violence-prone policies and security-centered frameworks can the UN move towards a different and more effective commitment to the well-being of all humanity.”


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