Incorporating Private Military/Security Companies to Peace Operations. Çağlar Kurç

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1 Incorporating Private Military/Security Companies to Peace Abstract Çağlar Kurç Peacekeeping forces are deployed to monitor the peace agreement and prevent any parties to break it however, in reality this is rarely realized. Sadly, the UN force becomes a bystander to eruption of hostilities. Despite, the United Nations is well aware of these problems, their state-centric approach do not yield in any significant solution. On the other hand, the possible solution to these problems already exists: Private Military/Security Companies (PMSCs). Since the UN DPKO perceives the PMSCs as profitseeking mercenaries, they never think of hiring them, although NGOs and some of the UN agencies are hiring PMSCs for their security in the conflict zones. PMSCs can be incorporated in peace operations, first as a force multiplier to existing peacekeeping force and the next taking on peace operations as a consortium of PMSCs. Thus, the problem of control can be solved through contracts. Therefore, the aim of this article is to find out why the UN refuses to use PMSCs, what would be the impact of PMSCs in peace operations and how PMSCs can be incorporated in peace operations. Keywords: Peace, Private Military/Security Companies, New Wars, United Nations Recently revived hope and belief in peace operations for the protection of civilians in the conflict zone once again left its place to pessimism with the latest events. The United Nations decision to deploy UNMIS (United Nations Mission in Sudan) and bolstering the mission with robust unprecedented peacekeeping force, UNAMID (African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur), was welcomed by many, but especially by those, who suffer because of the conflict between Government of Sudan forces, allied Janjaweed militia and other armed rebel groups. Another welcomed event was the European Union s decision to deploy EU Force (EUFOR) under MINURCAT (United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and in Chad). Many expected that suffering of people in Darfur would end. However, emerged optimism shattered with the news from the conflict zone and continuation of sufferings of people in Darfur. UNAMID just after deployment of African contingent became the target of rebel forces thus struggles to protect itself, let alone civilian in the region.

2 2 Incorporating Private Military/Security Companies to Peace Furthermore, UNAMID still have not reached its promised number and deployed forces experience lack of equipment. The same faith is shared by the EUFOR in Chad. The rebel forces at the Sudan-Chad border tested resilience and determination of EUFOR by attacking near by civilian settlement and UNHCR personnel. Although Irish contingent of EUFOR protected its premises, they fail to protect near by UNHCR personnel, thus rebel forces stole UNHCR s trucks, fuel and satellite phones. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Consequently, continuation of sufferings of civilians in Darfur and inability of UN and African Union to sustain peace has led many to think about alternatives. Activist Mia Farrow, for example, consulted with Blackwater, a US private military/security company, for help in Darfur. As Tim Spicer puts it, PMCs [Private Military Companies, the term that is not being used] exist to tackle those situations, mostly but by no means entirely military situations, which national governments are, for various reasons, unable to deal with themselves and where outside agencies, the UN or friendly nations, have refused to become involved 1. The heads of UN and African Union Organization still refuses the idea of using private security companies in peace operations although some member states, aid organizations and even UN agencies do to agree with this stance. For example, Defense Systems Limited have been working for a variety of organizations, like International Rescue Committee, CARE, USAID, UNHCR, the United Nations Children s Fund, the United Nations Angola Verification Mission and United Nations Operation in Mozambique. Furthermore, companies like KBR and DynCorp have been used in NATO s humanitarian intervention in Kosovo, and remained there after the intervention. Therefore, this article argues why Private Military/Security Companies (PMSCs) should be used in peace operations by looking problems associated with peace operations and how PMSCs can offer a solution to these problems. Furthermore, the article will analyze the attitude of the United Nations towards PMSCs, and attempt to find out, why the United Nations did not want to utilize PMSCs in Peace. 1- Unresolved Problems of Peace The most significant problem of peace operation is the donor states attitude towards taking risks. Donor states do not want to put their soldiers into risk, frightened that such move would drag their forces into conflict. This approach especially becomes widespread in democratic societies that become more risk and casualty averse. Consequently, politicians do not want to send their soldiers to conflict zones, especially to Africa where they do not

3 Çağlar Kurç 3 have any interest, because of the fear that casualties might prove public outcry. Even public itself forces their state to intervene in conflicts in Africa, i.e. Somalia during 1990s and currently Darfur, casualty aversion still influences decision makers. The result is, with some exceptions, democratic states, which most of them can effectively do such operations, restrain themselves from peace operations in conflict zones. Furthermore, troops that are sent to peace operations are just geared to self-protection 2. Such attitude has creates two problems. First, consequence is the weak mandates for peace operations and interpretation of it, which results in ineffectiveness and loss of deterrence of the force. The shared thinking is that powerful force that are enabled to use force other than self-defence may cause peacekeeping forces to become a party to conflict, thus means an intervention in favor of one side, which would undermine the neutrality of the force. However, events at the ground showed that passive mandates, which only foresees use of force in self-defence with weak contingencies, result in the loss of deterrent effect of the force in keeping peace, thus encourages rebel groups to regroup and attack. Although mandates for UNAMID and MINURCAT grants the right to use of force to protect civilians from attacks, the interpretation of the mandate neutralizes this right, thus mandate become a weak one. Despite recent willingness on the part of western powers to send peacekeeping troops to conflict zone in strategically less vital conflict zone, mostly due to public pressures, western militaries are unwilling to risk their soldiers. Moreover, states like Germany and Japan are more prone to fund peace operations rather than participate. Although, some experts expect this attitude is changing, history showed us in case of critical loss, these states are prone to withdraw their soldiers, rather than staying and fighting to establish peace. Second, in the absence of strong, well trained and professional Western soldiers, peace operations left to states that has weak, unprofessional and low training. Although on the paper, peacekeeping forces have necessarily equipments and logistical support for successful mission, realities on the ground shows otherwise. Peace forces lack necessary logistical support, equipments and number of soldiers. These weak forces sometimes become part of the problem, let alone protecting civilians. For example, even though ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) intervened to the conflict in Sierra Leone, Cote d Ivore and Burkina Faso, backed by other Francophone ECOWAS members, gave active support to main insurgent forces in Sierra Leone 3. Furthermore, intervening soldiers of the

4 4 Incorporating Private Military/Security Companies to Peace ECOMOG [Economic Community of West African State Monitoring Group], in Liberia, are involved in the looting, drug dealing and harassing citizens 4. Moreover, current structure of peace operations is slow to react changes in the field. Because of the unwillingness of donor states and long process to find peacekeeping soldiers prevents UN to take action when it is necessary. For instance, when the genocide was going on in Rwanda, members of the UN Security Council did everything in their power to not the use the word genocide, because the acceptance of genocide necessitates the UN intervention. Actually, we do not have to go that back in the history. Still a robust peace force waits to be deployed in Darfur. 2- What Should be done? In order to maintain or enforce peace, the deterrence of the peace force should be maintained. First step should be made clear to warring parties that peace force would use force against, without hesitation, to who attacks civilians in the conflict zone or breaks provisions of peace accords. In order to deter attacks to civilians and effectively protect them, the rules of the game should be set and followed strictly, even this means altering the balance between warring parties. Such stance will not undermine the neutrality of the peace force, as the rule will be followed for every party, even governmentallied militia forces. Only in the case of selective application of the rule, the neutrality will be undermined. Furthermore, the neutrality cannot be sustained by just protecting the aid and UN agencies and even peace force anymore. With emergence of the new wars, everyone is the target. Consequently, UN agencies and NGOs end up paying ransom to the local non-state groups or the aid have been plundered by them, as another mean to finance their war efforts. Refugee camps have become recruitment, rally and operational springboard of the losing side, leading to prolongation of the conflict 5. Furthermore, personnel of the NGOs became direct target for conflicting parties as a control and denial strategy. According to UNSECOORD, this trend was driven by the fact that whereas in the past personnel were assured protection by virtue of their association with the work with UN, this no longer the case. On the contrary, personnel are increasingly at risk because of such association 6. Second, the force should back such stance on the ground. The effectiveness is key here, rather than numbers. The deployed force should have well-trained and well-equipped soldiers with effective logistical

5 Çağlar Kurç 5 support. In addition, most importantly, the deployed force should present its willingness to protect civilians; even this means involving in firefights or conquering the strategic positions, which adversary launches its attacks. Past examples showed us that those, who would like to break the peace, test every deployed peace force. This is critical for the future of the peace operation and chance to show all warring parties that UN is willing to protect civilian at all costs. Furthermore, most rebel forces are aware of the fact that in case of inflating critical loss or even the thread of, especially to western power, the UN force would withdraw. The force, who is willing to risk their lives for protection of civilians, will signal to warring parties that such belief is not true, thus established the strong deterrence. 3- The Impact of Private Military/Security Companies PMSCs address the main problem behind the peace operations by willing to take risks to protect their clients. As mentioned above unwillingness of donor states to take risks undermines the deterrent effect of the peace force. On the other hand, PMSCs especially state that they are willing to operate in conflict zones and take risks. For instance, Executive Outcome operated in both Sierra Leone and Angola when the conflict was the most intense. Blackwater assumes the protection of US bases in Iraq, thus successfully repelled insurgency attacks to the bases, fighting along side with the US troops. Although PMSCs suffered casualties in Iraq, they continue to operate. Furthermore, PMSCs are effective in the operations that they are undertaking. PMSCs effectiveness arises from their flexible structure and high military quality, which enables them to project power effectively and fast. Most of the companies do not maintain large numbers of permanent employees but rather use databases of qualified personnel and specialized sub-contractors 7. This enables PMSCs expand their capabilities according to the demands of the target clients 8. Because of this, when PMSCs deployed to conflict zone, they are ready to undertake the necessary operation, without having problems of gathering well trained and well equipped personnel. We should mention that a single PSC is unable to deploy large contingency. Both Executive Outcomes and Sandline International conducted their operations with small contingency. In addition, currently, a single PMSC cannot deploy force more than 1000 personnel. On the other hand, what we are observing in especially in Iraq that utilization of multiple PMSCs can result in deployment of a force that can become second largest

6 6 Incorporating Private Military/Security Companies to Peace force after US army. Consequently, in case PMSCs given the opportunity to conduct peace operation, a consortium of PMSCs would do this. On the other hand, the use of PMSCs in peace operation has its own problems, which is raised by the critics of PMSCs. The most important problem is the control of PMSCs in the conflict zone. Critics are afraid of human rights violations and use of excessive force by the employees of PMSCs. This rightful concerns actually materialized by the human rights violation during the interrogation of Iraqi detainees by CACI-TITAN employees in Iraq. Moreover, aggressive behaviours of PMSCs employees, shooting civilian vehicles who are close to client s convoy, also criticized by many. On the other hand, the control issue can be overcome through contracts with PMSCs and holding responsible for their actions in the conflict zone. Moreover, private security associations like International Peace Operation Association and British Association of Private Security Companies can be depended on the supervision and regulation of PMSC. Thus, NGOs in the conflict zone can be trusted to find out if such crimes are committed. 5- The Approach of the United Nations to PMSC Mercenary activities during the Cold War have a significant effect on the PMSC perception of the United Nations and predominantly its African members, thus the unwillingness of the UN to utilize PMSCs emanates from this perception. PMSC does not strictly fit into the legal definition of the mercenary as former UN Special Rapporteur on mercenaries Enrique Bernales Ballesteros mentioned in a report of Economic and Social Council in However, the status of the employees of PMSCs remains vague as they fit into the traditional understanding of a mercenary, selling military services essentially for the financial gain. Hence, this traditional understanding of the mercenaries forms the perceived association between mercenaries and PMSCs. The Chairman of the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries Jose Luis Gomez del Prado told the UN General Assembly in 2008 that the PMSCs are absorbing the traditional mercenaries and deploying them in the conflict zones, which causes massacres like in Baghdad on September 16, 2007 by the employees of Blackwater 10. Furthermore, PMSCs are perceived as the new forms of mercenary activities though there is no legal agreement on the term. Consequently, such association between mercenaries and PMSCs hinders the UN s willingness to utilize PMSCs.

7 Çağlar Kurç 7 Furthermore, the United Nations is the construct of the nation-state system. Hence, the most important aspect of the nation-state system is the state s monopoly in the use of force. Even if the state fails to protect its citizens during internal conflicts, it is the international community s responsibility to protect the civilians. Thus the legitimate way of doing this is with the utilization of the armies of the other states, which in a way upholds this main principle. On the other hand the utilization of PMSC, a non-state actor, to restore state s monopoly on the use of force is somehow contradictory with the principle. Neither, the United Nations, as an institution, nor most states, especially African states, are ready to challenge this principle, despite the fact that the utilization of PMSC are increasing and encouraged by various states, like the United States and United Kingdom. 4- Conclusion Despite the ongoing problems with peace operations and rising level of using PMSCs by states, UN agencies and aid organizations, heads of the UN continues to reject such option. The use of PMSCs can alleviate the main problem behind weak mandates and interpretations, since PMSCs will be more willing to take risk. Consequently, through PMSCs, UN can establish strict stance on civilian protection, which would enhance deterrent effect of the force. Moreover, since the UN will be the client of PMSCs, UN can assume full control over their operation. However, we do not expect that a consortium of PMSCs will do peace operations in the near future. Alternatively, the employment of PMSCs to boost capabilities of current peace forces, especially in Darfur can be first step towards realization of all- PMSCs peace force. In order to realize this, the UN should give up jealously protecting state monopoly on the use of force and become more open to nonstate alternatives. Notes: 1 Spicer, Tim An Unorthodox Soldier: Peace and War and the Sandline Affair Mainstream Publishing, Edinburg and London, 1999, p.18 2 Smith, Rupert The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World, Penguin Books, London, 2006, pp

8 8 Incorporating Private Military/Security Companies to Peace 3 Gershoni, Yekutiel War without End and an End to a War: The Prolonged Wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone African Studies Vol. 40, No.3, 1997, pg ibid, p Spearin, Christopher Private Security Companies and Humanitarians: A Corporate Solution to Securing Humanitarian Space International Peacekeeping. Vol. 8, No. 1, 2001, pg ibid 7 Singer, P. W. Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry Cornell UP: Ithaca and London, 2003, pg ibid 9 Lilly, Damian, The Privatization of Peacekeeping: Prospects and Realities Disarmament Forum 2000, pg United Nations Radio Private Security Companies Engage in Mercenary Activities: UN Working Group Çağlar Kurç is a doctoral candidate at the Middle East Technical University, Graduate School of Social Sciences, Department of International Relations, Ankara, Turkey.

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