UN experts urge South Africa to strengthen control over private security firms

19 November 2010

A group of independent United Nations experts today urged South Africa to strengthen oversight and control over private military and security companies exporting their services abroad, saying regulations currently in place face implementation challenges.

A group of independent United Nations experts today urged South Africa to strengthen oversight and control over private military and security companies exporting their services abroad, saying regulations currently in place face implementation challenges.

At the end of a 10-day visit to the country, the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries noted that South Africans have, since the end of apartheid in 1994, been widely employed by private military and security companies operating around the world.

As a result, South Africa was one of the first countries to adopt legislation on the provision of foreign military assistance in 1998.

“Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the regulatory regime established in South Africa for private military and security companies and individuals operating in different countries has faced challenges in terms of implementation,” the Working Group, which visited South Africa at the invitation of the Government, said in a statement.

There was broad agreement during discussions between the Working Group and the South African authorities that the attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea in 2004 provided added momentum to revise the legislation to address the whole spectrum of activities to be regulated.

The Working Group noted that some of the South Africans involved in the attempted coup had been or were employed by private military and security companies.

“The Working Group recommends that the Government undertake the necessary steps to ensure that the regulatory regime envisaged in the legislation be strengthened and include a monitoring mechanism,” said Alexander Nikitin, the chairperson of the Working Group.

It stressed the important role South Africa’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee can play in the effective implementation of the legislation on private military and security companies.

The Group also expressed appreciation for the Government’s significant role at the UN to establish an international regulatory framework, including a legally binding instrument, to ensure the accountability of private military and security companies for human rights violations.

 

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