UN expert urges more awareness of mercenary aspect of terrorism

UN expert urges more awareness of mercenary aspect of terrorism

The involvement of mercenaries in terrorist acts should be reflected in United Nations analysis, follow-up and resolutions on terrorism, as well as in national legislation, according to a report to the General Assembly released today at UN Headquarters in New York.

In his report, UN Special Rapporteur Enrique Bernales Ballesteros said his mandate should be broadened to allow him to not only study mercenary activities as a means of impeding the right of peoples to self-determination, but to also take into account other situations in which mercenaries are involved - including illicit arms trafficking, terrorism, organized crime - and the use of mercenaries by private security companies to intervene in countries' internal affairs.

On the issue of illicit arms trafficking, the Rapporteur said mercenaries, through their experience, were able to enhance the frequency and volume of illicit weapons deals. He advocated the development of legal instruments to facilitate prosecution of that crime and the mobilization of the political will of States to suppress the illicit traffic effectively.

The report also warned that more and more mercenaries are being hired by private security companies operating in the international market for deployment in armed conflicts, illicit trafficking and human rights violations. The Rapporteur said this situation underlined the need for regulation, prevention, control and oversight of such companies, and that regulatory mechanisms must be set up through national legislation, in coordination with, and with the support of, the UN.

On Africa, the Special Rapporteur recommended that the Assembly reaffirm its full support for the self-determination and human rights of the continent's peoples and condemn the mercenary activities that undermine such rights. The Assembly was also urged to alert diamond exchanges, associations of diamond merchants, States in which diamond-mining companies operate, and all others involved in the illicit trade in diamonds, to the evidence of unscrupulous business practices in the diamond trade and their role in Africa's armed conflicts. "It is well known that mercenaries are involved in the illicit activities carried out by such firms," the report states.

Mr. Ballesteros also recommended that the General Assembly urge Member States to ratify or accede to the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, which is one ratification or accession short of entering into force. "The entry into force of the Convention would facilitate the banning of such activities and create an international climate more favourable to self-determination and defence of human rights," the Rapporteur said.