KEY POINTS about the International Seminar on “Human Rights and New Forms of Mercenarism”

The international seminar on “Human Rights and New Forms of Mercenarism: Violations, Limits and Opportunities of the International Legal System” took place on 21 April, at the Palau Macaya in Barcelona, with the aim of exposing, analysing and operationalizing the causes and impacts of private sector military and security companies on human rights.

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Is there a control over the Private Military & Security Companies?

On the 16th and 17th of February, the International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP) and the Direcció General de Cooperació de la Generalitat de Catalunya organized the international seminar “Business and Human Rights: Comparing Experiences” which incorporated the participation of national and international organizations, political representatives, academia, private companies, trade unions and civil society organizations.

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Outward Investment and China’s Private Security Empire

Taking into account the density and population of Asia, regions such as Latin America, are crucial and strategic allies for the supply of food, raw minerals and resources, especially oil. The Nicaraguan Canal project embodies the greater strategies employed by the Chinese government, utilizing cost-effective models in the developing Nicaraguan state and locational advantages due to its ability to accommodate large quantities of traded goods, especially between the Chinese and Brazilian markets. The importance in procuring these vital resources for sustained growth is contingent on the ability to effectively secure the private investments, which in the case of the Nicaraguan Canal, comes in the form of exported security services from the country’s rapidly emerging private military and security sector.

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The Northern Triangle of Central America as a PMSC Powerhouse

Situated between drug producers in the Andean Ridge nations and their consumer clientele in North America, the geographic landscape and vast terrain of the Northern Triangle of Central America, a region composed of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, is a primary passageway for narcotics and weapons. The region’s dense jungles and rural, sparsely populated areas provide ocean or land-borne traffickers with sufficient cover and discretion, especially due to its alignment to roadways and trails leading north through Mexico (USMC 2012:2-3).

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KEY POINTS about the International Seminar on “Human Rights and New Forms of Mercenarism”

CurrentAffairs Get InvolvedFollow usSubscribe The international seminar on “Human Rights and New Forms of Mercenarism: Violations, Limits and Opportunities of the International Legal System” took place on 21 April, at the Palau Macaya in Barcelona, with the aim of exposing, analysing and operationalizing the causes and impacts of private sector military and security companies on human rights. The discussions, round tables and lectures were themed around various aspects of the private military and security sector. The participating actors included experts from academia, military officers, and representatives of civil society organizations with institutional and political officials. The seminar also incorporated discussions that focused on the consequences and potential impacts on a wide variety of human rights issues, as well as analyzing the operational mechanisms of private sector military and security companies, including the corresponding role of states governments and the validity of the international legal system in regulating and governing this industry. Human Security, PSMC and Violations of Human Rights The seminar platform was focused both on the detection of limits and the presentation of new initiatives that could impose governance instruments by regulators over the private military and security sector. Private Security and Military Companies (PMSCs) are widely considered a new form of mercenarism that, according to Professor of Public International Law at the Universitat de Barcelona and Academic Director at CEI International Affairs Dr. Helena Torroja, does not fit into the current definition of “mercenary”. Through her work as director of the report, “Violations of Human Rights by the New Forms of Mercenarism and Public International Law”, Dr. Torroja introduced the main topics of the seminar: the protection of the human right to “security” and, therefore, the national obligation of states to guarantee this protection to all their citizens. Dr. Torroja also outlined the fact that ultimately, citizens of a given jurisdiction suffer the consequences of the PMSC activity, pointing out that the current mechanisms of self-regulation or pre-existing political agreements are not sufficient. Instead, according to Dr. Torroja, the privatization of certain sectors has major implications, indicating the necessity of proper governance. Next, Dr. Mario Laborie Iglesias, a colonel in the Spanish Army and political adviser in various institutions within the European Union spoke about the numerous international contexts in which private sector military and security companies operate. He summarized the “Western” perspective of security within the global system, in which human security contains a responsibility to protect. According to Dr. Laborie Iglesias, this responsibility is not being applied effectively or evenly throughout the globe and concluded that there are formidable obstacles presented to a state actor in their effort to implement this responsibility. The former member of the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, José Luis Gómez de Prado, underlined the fact that PMSCs violate a long list of International Human Rights and relayed examples of torture, executions and violations of the right to health. According to Gómez del Prado, contrary to the traditional definition…

Is there a control over the Private Military & Security Companies?

CurrentAffairs Get InvolvedFollow usSubscribe Limitations of the non-binding mechanisms to prevent human rights violations by the private military and security industry On the 16th and 17th of February, the International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP) and the Direcció General de Cooperació de la Generalitat de Catalunya organized the international seminar “Business and Human Rights: Comparing Experiences” which incorporated the participation of national and international organizations, political representatives, academia, private companies, trade unions and civil society organizations. These kind of meetings highlight the necessity of considered actions related to to the sector and serve to consolidate, at the same time, the interest of Catalan public institutions in defining a unique model of outward action, rooted in peace promotion, human rights and sustainable human development. All of these objectives have a presence since 2014 in the catalan law, more specifically in the Llei del Parlament de Catalunya 16/2014, de 4 de desembre, d’Acció Exterior i de Relacions amb la Unió Europea. HUMAN RIGHTS AND BUSINESS The definition of this model comes in a key moment: five years after the Human Rights Council approved the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”, just 13 countries have developed “National Action Plans” to apply this principles. All of them, however, are criticized by their notable weaknesses, the majority of which exclude proper binding mechanisms; a general absence of consultative processes with civil society and affected societies in particular during their elaboration and implementation; as well as the lack of concretion in the monitoring systems. With the aim of establishing and implementing a legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational companies in the field of human rights, in 2014, the UN Human Rights Council approved the creation of an “intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights,” which will present the first draft of a proposed international treaty by the end of 2017. At the same time, significant work is underway in the creation of effective international instruments that ensure respect of human rights by private companies, against a corporative sector that has developed a Global Corporate Law, protected by contracts and inversions. These rules and principles established by the private sector are based in multiple contracts of exploitation, bilateral commercial treaties, inversion protection deals, adjustment policies and conditioned loans, among others. The legal asymmetry between the protection of human rights and the transnational companies’ inversions means, in practice, the defencelessness of the victims. In the case of human rights violations, those affected by the activities of these companies lack effective mechanisms to hold them accountable for their actions, prevented access to courts with specific jurisdiction and the inability to demand full reparation. In parallel, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the codes of conduct are non-binding legal formulas designed to evade judicial control, marketing strategies without real consequences within the company, beyond simple statements of “business ethics.” BUSINESS AND ARMED CONFLICTS The Institut Internacional per l’Acció…

Outward Investment and China’s Private Security Empire

CurrentAffairs Get InvolvedFollow usSubscribe J. Andrew Carter, Jr. Chinese infrastructure investments are booming. In June 2013, the Government of Nicaragua awarded an exclusive 50-year, $50 billion USD contract to the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Group (HKND) to construct and operate a 259.4 km waterway, connecting the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean via the Caribbean Sea, traversing the tropical freshwater Lago de Nicaragua (HKND Group 2014:10-22). The ambitious canal project is expected to be completed by 2020 and is considered the largest civil earthmoving operation in modern history, requiring the excavation of approximately 5 billion m3 of land material (Huete-Pérez et al. 2015:3990-1). The externalities of the project, one of many projects around the globe spearheaded by Chinese firms, can prove to safeguard China’s continued economic expansion into the next 20 years. Taking into account the density and population of Asia, regions such as Latin America, are crucial and strategic allies for the supply of food, raw minerals and resources, especially oil. The Nicaraguan Canal project embodies the greater strategies employed by the Chinese government, utilizing cost-effective models in the developing Nicaraguan state and locational advantages due to its ability to accommodate large quantities of traded goods, especially between the Chinese and Brazilian markets. The importance in procuring these vital resources for sustained growth is contingent on the ability to effectively secure the private investments, which in the case of the Nicaraguan Canal, comes in the form of exported security services from the country’s rapidly emerging private military and security sector. Rise of Chinese Infrastructure Investment Trade liberalization and changes in foreign trade regimes has enhanced the Chinese market-seeking strategy which is increasingly employed and promoted by the Chinese government, where Chinese firms are incentivized to invest abroad by guaranteed political and financial support from the government. Incentives come in the form of government provisions of tax benefits and rebates, investment insurance packages and most importantly, low interest rates on loans arranged by state-owned banks (Deng 2007:72-3). This governmental tactic is statistically reinforced by the higher outward FDI growth rates in China than that of other developed economies and is mirrored in the country’s $52.15 billion outward investments in 2008 (Deng 2007:71, Holtbrugge & Kreppel 2010:5-6,9). This promotion of outward investment is multi-faceted in the sense that emerging sectors of China’s economy, such as that of private military and security, are encouraged to establish foreign operations and partnerships, especially along Chinese trade routes. The Chinese government actively supports firms in various sectors of the economy to invest in foreign markets, especially in the sectors of infrastructure, resource mining, research and development. Although types of outward investments are diverse, strategic investments through private infrastructure projects have the biggest externalities due to the potential to spur access to new markets. This corresponds with Chinese policy, allowing the government to act on its interest in the direction of global society building despite its historical record of non-interventionism in international politics (UNCTAD 2005/9;…
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