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Scoping exercise: Private military and security companies

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The increasing relevance of private military and security companies (PMSCs) is related to the progressive privatisation of war in all of its new expressions.

In March 2013, an Open Briefing consultancy team carried out a scoping exercise on behalf of the Remote Control Project (a pilot project of the Network for Social Change that is hosted by Oxford Research Group). The team collected and analysed information on NGOs undertaking advocacy/policy work related to the use of PMSCs and compiled a bibliography of recent relevant publications and recommended sources to follow.

Several recurring themes were identified during this research, including:

  • Developing a robust regulatory and legal framework for PMSCs and ending the grey areas in which they often operate.
  • Understanding the point at which the state is responsible for the actions of PMSCs employed by the government or based in their country.
  • The challenge of PMSCs to the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force.
  • The long-term effects on military effectiveness of an over-reliance on PMSCs (for example, the potential difficulty retaining special forces personnel within the military rather than losing them to the better paying private sector).

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