Account of FCO-DFID hosted one-day seminar
on the Government's Green Paper "Private Military Companies:
Options for Regulation"
Centre for Studies in Security and Diplomacy,
The University of Birmingham: 24 June 2002
1. Professor Michael Clark (Pro-Vice-Chancellor,
the University of Birmingham) encouraged productive discussions
and clear messages.
2. Sir David Logan (Director of the Centre
for Studies in Security and Diplomacy) noted that the Green Paper
did not prejudge the outcome of consultations.
Dr Kevin O'Brien, RAND Europe: "Private
Military Companies: Options for Regulation" (attached/also
circulated at the seminar)
3. Dr O'Brien considered the FCO's Green
Paper well-researched and balanced. Defining private military
companies, private security companies and mercenaries remained
problematic. Potential discriminators included: transparency,
control, accountability; the length of engagements and the roles
they were asked by the international community to undertake. His
own paper recommended a three-tier system of combining
a licence to operate a Private Military
Company/Private Security Company;
a licence to undertake military services
a situation-specific licence.
Bans on military activity abroad or on recruitment
for military activity abroad would not add value nor would self-regulation.
An industry regulatory authority should be established within
the FCO, in co-ordination with DTI and MoD. A similar approach
should be encouraged at the international and EU levels. The UK
government should integrate its approach to regulating the activities
of private military/security companies abroad with its approach
to regulating the activities of private security companies domestically.
4. Dr O'Brien recommended a prohibition
individual (non-corporate) participation
combat services in zones of conflict
(with exceptions for eg support to UK national objectives through
Arms brokering (which should continue
to be subject to existing arms-export controls in the UK and be
kept separate from licensing private military/security company
Mr Henry Cummins, University of Cranfield: "Perception
and Profit: Understanding Commercial Military and Security Service
Provision" (attached/also circulated at the seminar)
5. Mr Henry Cummins said that market forces
had significant influences over the activities of private military
and security companies. Legitimacy, brand equity and transparency
were important in a competitive market. Trust and communication
between NGOs and companies engaged in the debate needed to improve.
6. Mr Cummins described the market for private
military and security companies:
Fragmented and characterised by small
niche suppliers. Few areas where companies competed directly against
each other. Falling demand for combat services but increasing
demand for services in the rest of the sector.
Wide range of services provided including
security, humanitarian support, logistics, combat and other specialist
Attitudes toward the sector tended
to be polarised and emotive.
The profit motive was a cause of
Legitimacy including legal and moral
conduct were key to the commercial success of private military
and security companies.
Transparency of military and security
companies could be improved by the disclosure of basic company
information using a "Code of Transparency".
Scrutiny by the media, academics,
NGOs and Government had a significant shaping effect on the business
of military and security companies.
7. Mr Cummins said that national regulation
could help to establish and reinforce international standards
Damian Lilly, representing International Alert:
"Regulating Private Military Companies: The need for a multidimensional
approach" (attached/also circulated at the seminar)
Mr Lilly considered that companies wishing to
supply military services abroad should be regulated and licensed
by the Government. The purpose of regulation should be to control
undesirable activities and to promote accountability. Legislation
should define the actors, activities and services to which it
would apply. HMG should adopt the definition of mercenary included
in Article 47 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.
Such definitions should bear in mind the Diplock Report recommendation
of focusing on the purpose for which mercenaries or private military
companies were hired (rather than their motivation). The Government
should ratify the International Convention against Mercenaries
and seek to address the weaknesses and imperfections of the Convention.
9. Dr Lilley proposed:
a ban on the specific list of activities
including direct participation in hostilities by an individual
or a private military company, or in activities that might lead
to a lethal outcome.
regulation of other activities such
as military advice and training, logistical support and security
that UK legislation should state
the criteria to be used to assess licence applications.
A private military company representative
10. A private military company representative
a new category of company, the Private
Combat Company (PCCs); operating under the control of the UN Security
Council, rather than under contract to national Governments;
tougher control of arms sales;
improved training standards;
Government use of private military
companies would increase enthusiasm for regulation.
Points raised in discussion during discussion
Problems of defining private military
and security companies and mercenaries, and their activities.
Whether to include eg civilian police.
The nature and value of transparency
and how to achieve it.
The possibility and merits of banning
private military companies from participation in some activities,
Whether the Government should seek
political control of private military companies' activities.
Whether private sector support could
or should offer a long-term solution to conflict.
Whether regulation was desirable,
inevitable or neither.
Whether to licence services/activities,
types of companies or on a case-by-case basis.
Whether national interest should
affect licence issuance.
Whether to establish a general vetting
process allowing companies to be licensed for any activity or
The willingness and ability of other
countries to develop and enforce regulation. The possibility and
merit of EU regulation.
Licensing across borders.
Whether the UN should have a role
The cost of a regulatory process.
Whether, and if so how, to monitor
the activities of licensed private military/security companies.
The possibility of using criteria
similar to those for export controls.
Which Government Department should
act as the regulatory body.
The possible rigidity of a licensing
regime covering both companies and individuals.
The consequences of a licensing regime
for flexibility, speed of delivery and confidentiality of private
Whether regulation would force private
military companies abroad/under ground.
The possibility of developing an
industry institute with the aim of increasing transparency and
accountability of the industry.
Whether private military companies
could or should command and control arrangements similar to those
of national forces. More informal monitoring mechanisms such as
Lessons from the US and South Africa
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
18 July 2002
4 None of the attachments to this memorandum have
been printed. Back