On 6 July 2011, the Small Arms Survey 2011, produced by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, reported that private security personnel across the globe now outnumber police officers by nearly two to one. The survey found that the private security sector now employs around 20 million documented personnel worldwide, a number that has increased dramatically since the mid-1980s.
The Small Arms Survey acknowledges that the main driver behind the expansion in private security activity is the global trend towards the downsizing of government. What were once core state functions, such as prison surveillance and immigration control are now being farmed out to private security providers (PSPs) to reduce costs. Other factors have also caused the boom in private security, such as the increased awareness of clients to security threats, the perceived increase in threat from terrorism and the growing economic expansion and business opportunity in insecure regions of the world.
According to the survey’s authors, regulation and accountability mechanisms for the industry are currently lacking. Despite evidence suggesting that some PSPs have acquired firearms illegally, misused arsenals and lost weapons through theft, the systematic reporting of these events by PSPs is nonexistent. In addition to these regulatory failures, the study found that the weak oversight capabilities of multinational corporations in the recruitment process for security staff meant that private security personnel with track records of using ‘excessive’ force could be hired.
PSPs are becoming increasingly used to cover what were once considered services provided by the state and are seen as a necessity by many businesses operating in high opportunity yet high risk regions of the world. Businesses and governments should be aware of the serious reputational risk involved in employing PSPs and personnel with dubious human rights records or histories of using ‘excessive force’. To avoid potential involvement in human rights violations businesses can check that any private security firms that are employed by the company comply with the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers. Drafted by the Swiss government and signed by 58 PSPs on 9 November 2010, the Code reinforces legal restrictions on killing, torture, discrimination and human trafficking and sets standards regarding how companies should operate. By signing up to the code, PSPs commit themselves to curbing the use of force, ensuring extensive training of personnel and reporting of any violations.
Hi Chris - you may be interested in the following. The Afghan government says it plans to go ahead with plans to shut down private security companies in March 2012. Instead, they plan to transfer their responsibilities to a public Afghan Public Protection Force, which will guard development projects, international compounds, etc. President Karzai apparently called for the move on the grounds of a lack of respect for local laws by private security firms - as well as concerns around the presence of what are effectively paramilitaries...
An interesting report from the Global Policy Forum: A Dangerous Partnership: Private Military & Security Companies and the UN (http://www.globalpolicy.org/images/p...ull_report.pdf). It appears that it is not only companies and governments who are increasingly relying on PMCs and security companies. The report claims that:
> The UN is itself becoming increasingly reliant on private military/security firms companies
> That there was a 77% increase on money spend on such companies in the year to 2010
> Major users include the UNDP (USD30m in 2010), UN peacekeeping operations (USD18.5m in 2010) and UN refugee activities (USD12.2m in 2010)
The Global Policy Forum describes the UN's use of such companies as "dangerous" and the system governing their use as "unaccountable"). The report cites, for example, the risk that "Armed security contractors can also smuggle weapons into conflict zones and sell them or make them available to parties to the conflict, as has happened in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Somalia."
Nonetheless, UN spokesman Martin Nesirsky is quoted by the BBC as saying the use of such contractors is "appropriate" and that he believed the UN could continue their use as long as "due diligence" was carried out. According to Nesirsky, the UN is currently finalising a policy for security contractors, for application across the UN.
Private security provision at sea - and special regulatory measures
An interesting area of focus is private security provision at sea (i.e. to counter piracy). Given the often ambiguous jurisdictions that apply in international waters - this would seem to be a potential 'grey spot' for regulation and oversight. An example of the risks (albeit in the context of public security forces) can be seen in the context of the well-publicised case of the February killing of two Indian fishermen - allegedly by two Italian marines guarding an oil tanker. In the private context, whilst an inceasing number of companies appear to be using the services of armed, on-board personnel - and in many cases they will use regulated/certified security providers - the very circumstances of security provision (i.e. in international waters, with few witnesses, no relevant media observers, etc.) could arguably raise the risk of abuses. Are there any specialist codes of conducts, guidance or monitoring frameworks for maritime security protection to address this?
There are a number of these frameworks, I am including a few below. There has been a great deal of work on these issues since the threat from piracy increased, predominantly sought by the private security companies themselves wishing to ensure that they operated within the national and international laws. Some of these documents seek to clarify existing laws, as armed private security on board ships do not operate in a legal vacuum.
• International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Circular MSC.1/Circ.1405/Rev.2; (Revised Interim Recommendations for Flag States Regarding the Use of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel on Board Ships in the High Risk Area): http://www.imo.org/OurWork/Security/....1405-Rev2.pdf
• The ISO PAS 28007:2012 (Guidelines for Private Maritime Security Companies providing privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships), drafted at the request of the IMO and published in December 2012, sets out the Guidance for applying ISO 28000 to Private Maritime Security Companies.
• International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Circular MSC.1/Circ.1443 (Interim Guidance to Private Maritime Security Companies Providing Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel on Board Ships in the High Risk Area)
The UK government has also published a revised guidance to UK flagged shipping, below, from which I pull these quotes:
• “The criminal law of England and Wales and of Northern Ireland applies onboard UK registered ships on the high seas. Any force used by armed guards must comply with the relevant domestic law.”
• “The master and security team leader should complete a formal written record (firearms incident report) of every incident where firearms are discharged, whether accidentally or deliberately. Where a crime is committed, this report may serve as evidence, and must therefore be accurate and complete.”
Quotes from: UK Government: Department for Transport Interim Guidance to UK Flagged Shipping on the Use of Armed Guards to Defend Against the Threat of Piracy in Exceptional Circumstances, Version 1.2