This is our future; Mercenaries Are Us

We are being warned in report after report and yet governments and corporations see private security as the ideal way to enforce and protect assets. And now the reality:

A UN expert group warned of an alarming resurgence in the use of mercenaries and a major expansion in military and security companies operating without regulation or accountability.

The five-member working group on the use of mercenaries said in a report to the UN General Assembly that mercenary forces in Libya and Ivory Coast reportedly were involved in committing serious human rights violations – as were some contractors for military and security companies working in Iraq and elsewhere.

Faiza Patel, who heads the working group, told a news conference on Tuesday that states should cooperate to eliminate the use of mercenaries and regulate the activities of military and security companies.

“Recent events in Africa clearly demonstrate that problems posed by mercenaries are still a live issue,” she said, adding that these hired foreign fighters are being used in new and novel ways.

Patel said there is considerable evidence that former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo used some 4,500 Liberian mercenaries to avoid leaving office after losing a 2010 election.

In Libya, she said, there were widespread reports that foreign fighters allegedly recruited from neighbouring African countries and Eastern Europe by Muammar Gaddafi’s government were used to crack down on… demonstrations earlier this year.

“Mercenaries continue to be recruited and active in several parts of the world,” the report said. “Mercenary activities often constitute threats to national and even regional peace and security. They also have a serious impact on the right of peoples to self-determination and the enjoyment of human rights.”

Take this as an example of why we should be very concerned of unaccountable forces (often with immunity) running around post-conflict societies:

Oil companies in Iraq still need to factor in a security cost overhead as part of doing business in the country in order to protect their people and assets. John McCaffery, Managing Director of British private security firm Erinys, gives his guide to choosing the right provider.

The securing of personnel and assets is a complex amalgam of procedural, technical and physical methods that establishes layered security “architecture” with multiple zones.

If one considers the client and a project as the core of an onion then layers of skin that surround the core would represent the security “zones” that protect the client.

In relation to the cost of security, there is an old saying: “if you have a five dollar head, then wear a five dollar helmet” – in other words, if you value what you have you are willing to pay to protect it.