Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Ninth Report


(a)We conclude that the lack of centrally held information on contracts between Government Departments and private military companies is unacceptable. We recommend that the Government take immediate steps to collect such information and to update it regularly. We further recommend that in its response to this Report the Government publish a comprehensive list of current contracts between Government Departments and private military companies and private security companies, and provides the information requested by the Committee in the Chairman's letter of 18 June to Denis MacShane, which is reproduced in full at page Ev. 44 (paragraph 17).
(b)We recommend that the Government, as it considers national regulatory measures, also develop a new draft international convention to regulate PMCs which might replace the existing UN Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries (paragraph 25).
(c)We recommend that, in considering options for regulation, the Government examine carefully the United States government's regime for regulating and monitoring the activities of private military companies (paragraph 28).
(d)We recommend that the Government work with European partners towards including the services provided by PMCs in the existing EU Code of Conduct for Arms Exports (paragraph 30).
(e)We recommend that, before bringing forward legislation to regulate PMCs, the Government consider how to deal with the possible involvement of these companies in the overthrow of established states (paragraph 50).
(f)Although the services provided by PMCs will not by themselves solve underlying problems in unstable countries, we conclude that the employment of professional, responsible and well regulated PMCs could, in some circumstances, contribute to the establishment or maintenance of relative stability, under which lasting solutions to such problems might be worked out. We further conclude that PMCs may have a legitimate role to play in helping weak governments to secure revenue streams, for example by protecting border points and highways (paragraph 67).
(g)We recommend that the Government prohibit private military or security companies from using names similar to those of British regiments or fighting units, or from the use of any emblem, symbol or distinctive item of uniform similar to those of the British armed forces (paragraph 71).
(h)We conclude that the Government should consider carefully whether the greater use of PMCs in UK humanitarian and peace support operations might help to reduce military overstretch (paragraph 101).
(i)We conclude that an outright ban on all military activity abroad by private military companies would be counterproductive (paragraph 102).
(j)Though the Green Paper argues that "the distinction between combat and non-combat activities is often artificial," we conclude that such a distinction can and should be drawn for the purposes of regulation. We do not underestimate the difficulties inherent in this process (paragraph 107).
(k)We recommend that private companies be expressly prohibited from direct participation in armed combat operations, and that firearms should only be carried—and, if necessary, used—by company employees for purposes of training or self-defence (paragraph 108).
(l)We recommend that the Government give very careful consideration to imposing a ban on all recruitment by PMCs for combat operations and other activities which are illegal under United Kingdom law. We further recommend that the Government consider the practicality of a complete ban on recruitment for such activities of United Kingdom citizens by overseas-based or offshore PMCs (paragraph 114).
(m)We recommend that, to prevent the inappropriate use of knowledge gained through employment in the British armed forces, the Government examine whether restrictions should be placed on former British service personnel who wish to move into related activity in the private sector, such as a 'cooling off' period similar to that which applies to former civil servants and government advisers (paragraph 115).
(n)We recommend that each contract for a military/security operation overseas should be subject to a separate licence, with the exception of companies engaged in the provision of non-contentious services for whom the Government considers a general licence would suffice (paragraph 123).
(o)We recommend that the Government consider carefully how to ensure that a licensing regime allows companies to operate with the necessary speed without compromising the effectiveness of the vetting process (paragraph 124).
(p)Despite private military companies' concerns about client confidentiality, we conclude that the need to ensure that the sector is properly regulated overrides the private interests of PMCs and their clients (paragraph 126).
(q)We recommend that the Government should consider whether exemptions to the project-specific licensing procedure described above should apply with respect to contracts with trusted organizations of which the United Kingdom is a member, such as NATO, the United Nations or the European Union and with responsible governments (paragraph 129).
(r)We recommend that private military and security companies be required to obtain a general licence before undertaking any permitted military/security activities overseas (paragraph 134).
(s)We recommend that, as part of the application procedure for registration, private military companies be required to disclose to the Government in some detail the company structures, the experience of permanent personnel, recruitment policies, and other relevant information (paragraph 135).
(t)We conclude that a voluntary code is insufficient to regulate the private military industry, because it would not enable the Government to prevent the activities of disreputable companies which were detrimental to the United Kingdom's interests (paragraph 137).
(u)Given the costs inherent in regulating the private sector to perform the tasks discussed in this Report, we recommend that the Government weigh these costs carefully against the option of developing a publicly funded armed service cadre to provide on a commercial basis the tasks currently being undertaken by PMCs (paragraph 141).
(v)We conclude that improving controls over the trafficking and brokering of arms would curb some of the most damaging activities of private military companies. We further conclude that, because of improved international intelligence co-operation since the terrorist attacks of 11 September, policing such controls should be possible. We recommend that the Government apply extra-territorial jurisdiction to the brokering and trafficking of arms at the earliest opportunity (paragraph 149).
(w)We recommend that any prospective regulatory regime for private military companies be co-ordinated with the Government's existing export controls, to ensure that arms used by a PMC in fulfilment of a contract do not remain in a country subject to embargo (paragraph 150).
(x)We recommend that the Government consider establishing an informal appraisal and complaints mechanism, which would operate through consultations between UK officials in posts and the organizations operating alongside PMCs in the field (paragraph 153).
(y)We recommend that the Government establish as an integral part of any regulatory system an appropriate monitoring and evaluation regime, and make full co-operation with that regime a condition of the granting of licences to PMCs (paragraph 157).
(z)We conclude that procedures similar to those for Parliamentary scrutiny of arms export licences should apply to any regulation of PMCs, with prior Parliamentary scrutiny being applied to any licence applications that might involve PMCs in the provision of armed combat services (paragraph 160).
(aa)We recommend that the Government consider very carefully how to ensure that the benefits of permitting a regulated private military sector to operate from the United Kingdom are not outweighed by the costs of establishing and maintaining a regime for their regulation (paragraph 163).

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 1 August 2002