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For those who thought that fighting for one’s country was the noblest of duties, there are reasons to ponder as today wars itself are getting ‘outsourced’ for money. The mercenaries and the private military contractors have emerged as new articulated players in the war regions of the world. Especially in Africa, the involvement of these ‘Private Players’ from America and Europe have led to a number of insalubrious incidents.
Mercenaries have been active in Congo, Seychelles, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone among several other countries. They have been accused of staging wars and military coups in African countries with active support of private financiers and governments of Western States. Simon Mann was one such example, who plotted military coup in Equatorial Guinea. He was jailed for arms purchasing tactics and his links were credibly established with Sir Mark Thatcher and Lord Archer from UK making the circle complete.
The other attempt to bring highly ‘efficient privatisation’ in warfare is through Private Civilian Companies or Defence Contractors. This disturbing trend of disbursing the crucial aspect of military to private player is fast churning out a system of least accountability. In United States, since 1994, the defence department has awarded 3,601 contracts worth $300 billion to 12 American-based companies. These contractors have been accused of severe human right violation and atrocities to civilians in Bosnia, Afghanistan and most importantly in Iraq.
The Protocol Additional to the Geneva Convention of 1949 and Protocol I of 1977 categorically states that “a mercenary is not a member to the armed forces of a party to the conflict and has not been sent by a state which is not a party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.” Before the details, it must be noted that US is not a signatory to this protocol. Also, the UN Mercenary Convention of 2001, which substantially banned the recruitment, training and financing of the mercenaries, ignores the use of ‘private military companies’ or ‘civilian contractors’. So, another instance of crude hypocrisy – different set of rules for different sets of players!
By:- The IIPM Think Tank
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