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J. Andrew Carter, Jr.
The Market for Force
In the current postmodern political climate, military and security services have evolved and specialized to an impressive degree. Arguably, state governments have relinquished their monopoly of force through the increased provision of contracts to specialized private contractors to provide support or carry out complex services on behalf of or in addition to current military or security engagements. Public sector governments and private citizens are motivated to utilize these specialized services due to the supposed benefits of outsourcing military and security services. In particular, the private sector promises innovation, efficiency, expertise and exclusivity. The benefit of incorporating private actors into public and private military and security network has given rise to an array of affluent, connected and powerful multinational corporations, which have then generated influence on a broad spectrum of security policy worldwide.
While in some jurisdictions, the utility of private military and security services is legally ambiguous, its cost effectiveness and contractual nature provides its clientele- both public and private actors- with invaluable protection, decreased accountability and highly specialized services. The fine line is not easily distinguished between public and private actors in the security industry. Private citizens and former public security personnel have the ability to engage in these services formerly reserved for state and national police and military actors through employment with private firms. The personnel within the sector are able to engage in activities within specialized, privately registered corporations or consultancies, which market collaborative or supplemental security services to both private citizens and public governments in a manner that they are outside the scope of conventional security networks. These private actors engage in services such as combat support, armed guarding, protection or detention of persons, assets or objects, as well as the maintenance and strategic functionality of arms, surveillance or security systems.
In 2017, Shock Monitor launched an interactive tool on its webpage intending to track and pinpoint firms operating in various jurisdictions within the international system to increase transparency of the sector. The tool embodies the principle mission of the campaign, which is to observe and document military and security activity by third party actors and to promote research and reporting on impacts to humanitarian and international law around the world, without limitation to any specific geographical context.
The data published within the online database and mapping tool is collected, developed and verified through the Shock Monitor technical and research team. Shock Monitor was created under the direction of the International Institute for Nonviolent Action (NOVACT), headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, which provides a physical space and common field office for Shock Monitor. Despite the institutional ties of the organization, Shock Monitor operates independently and benefits from the broad range of human rights activism established through the NOVACT platform.
Shock Monitor is not limited to an online research tool, and also encompasses local civil society organizations, human rights activists, academic researchers, and other…