The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries today expressed concern about the increasing involvement of private military and security companies in countries facing conflict, including their work protecting mining companies and the effect this has on local communities.
During a week-long session, which ended last Friday, the Working Group addressed a whole range of issues, including emerging trends regarding mercenaries or mercenary-related activities and the impact of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on human rights.
“The group expressed concerns on the effects of the increasing phenomenon of the recruitment of nationals from countries in many regions by subsidiaries of transnational private military and security companies with legal personality in another country, and providing services in countries experiencing violent conflict,” it said in a press release.
“It expressed concern also on the phenomenon of conflicts involving private companies that provide security to installations and facilities of extractive industries and the effects on local communities and the enjoyment of land rights and a clean environment.”
It also commended Honduras and Ecuador for moving towards acceding to the International Convention against the Use, Recruitment, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, and welcomed the fact that Peru will soon become the 29th State party to this Convention.
The Working Group was established in 2005 by the now-defunct Commission on Human Rights, which was replaced last year by the strengthened Human Rights Council. The Group’s mandate includes monitoring the impact of the activities of private military and security companies on the enjoyment of all human rights. It has also been requested to prepare draft international basic principles that encourage respect for human rights on the part of those companies.
It is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities, and headed by its Chairperson-Rapporteur, José Luis Gómez del Prado (Spain). The other experts are: Najat al-Hajjaji (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), Amada Benavides de Pérez (Colombia), Alexander Nikitin (Russian Federation) and Shaista Shameem (Fiji).