Opinion article by member of UN Working Group on mercenaries on the UN Human Rights Council resolution on private military & security firms

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7 October 2010

[DOC] A pyrrhic victory at the United Nations over the 21st century’s "privateer industry"?

Author: Jose L. Gomez del Prado, Member, UN Working Group on mercenaries

For the last two decades Cuba has been at the forefront in the [UN] Human Rights Council on the issue of mercenaries and the activities of private companies...The position of Western governments has been a rejection of the Cuban motions by voting against the establishment, mandate and recommendations of the UN Working on mercenaries...principally the [UK] and [USA] where approximately 70% of the private military and security companies (PMSC) are located...However, since 2001 the use of [PMSCs] to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the human rights violations in which they have been involved has been the focus of international attention...To respond partly to these concerns...UK and USA, with...Switzerland, the [ICRC] and the two main [industry] associations...(IPOA)...and...(BAPSC)...launched the Swiss Initiative...However, these excellent examples cannot be left to self-regulation...[T]he Working Group on mercenaries in its 2010 reports to the UN Human Rights Council...has recommended a legally binding instrument regulating and monitoring their [PMSCs] activities...For the first time, a different resolution dissociating the activities of PMSC from the traditional resolution on mercenaries was tabled this year at the UN Human Rights Council...However...[w]ithout the participation of the UK and USA main exporters of these activities as well as other Western countries...the resolution passed in the Human Rights Council appears more like a pyrrhic victory...[refers to ArmorGroup, part of G4S]

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1 October 2010

Human Rights Council establishes Working Group on activities of Private Security Companies, renews mandates on Sudan and Somalia

Author: United Nations Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council...decided to establish an intergovernmental open-ended Working Group with the mandate to elaborate a legally binding instrument on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the impact of the activities of private military and security companies on the enjoyment of human rights, on the basis of the principles, main elements and the draft text for a possible convention proposed by the United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination…

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