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Existing International Instruments and Mechanisms

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As the scale and scope private military and security companies (PMSCs) are rapidly expanding internationally, the question of their regulation is evermore pressing. Although credible exact figures on the activities of the companies are not available, there is ample indication that the companies play a central role around the world. In Iraq, a Department of Defense survey estimates that there are some 180.000 contractors compared to 160.000 U.S. troops (Singer, 2007: 2). In Nigeria some 1000 registered security companies constitute the second economic sector in the economy after oil (Abrahamsen and Williams, 2006a). Moreover, the scope of PMSC activity is steadily expanding. The trend to privatize and outsource a growing range of activities places PMSCs in charge of an ever growing range of formerly military or policing tasks. The predictable consequence is that PMSCs are increasingly visible and controversial. Incidences such as that in the Nisour square Baghdad where Blackwater contractors were involved in an incident leaving 17 dead civilians on 16th of September 2007 focus attention around the regulatory context of PMSC work. This presentation discusses one aspect of that regulatory context, namely the existing international regulation.

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Anna Leander

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