Private military companies and the proliferation of small arms: Biting the Bullet - Briefing 10
This briefing in the Biting the Bullet series looks at regulating the actors: steps the international community can take at the UN Small Arms Conference and elsewhere to effectively combat mercenarism and regulate the activities of private military and security companies.
The 1990s witnessed a change in the way wars were fought as the amount of available weaponry increased and the types of actors engaged in warfare multiplied. The activities of mercenaries and private military and security companies can contribute to small arms proliferation and misuse.
The opening up of the international arms trade, in particular with new buyers and more channels of supply, has raised concerns about who purchases weapons and for what use. A feature of this changing nature of conflict has been the continuing, if not growing, presence of mercenaries and the emergence of private companies contracted to provide military and security services. These range from logistical support and training to advice and procurement of arms and on-the-ground intervention. This briefing highlights how the activities of mercenaries and private military and security companies can contribute to small arms proliferation and misuse and examines steps the international community can take at the UN Small Arms Conference and elsewhere to effectively combat mercenarism and regulate the activities of private military and security companies.
The role played by these companies relates not only to provisions contained in the contracts they sign with their clients to provide large amounts of weaponry, but also how the military and security services and training that they provide contributes to the demand for weapons in the regions where they operate. There are a number of ways in which mercenaries and private military and security companies are involved in small arms proliferation.
International Alert, in collaboration with BASIC and Saferworld, is working to facilitate the dialogue between government and civil society in order that an effective programme of action follows from the 2001 UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects. The Biting the Bullet series provides governments and NGOs with information and policy recommendations on issues addressed at the conference.