Participation at the Seminar: COMPANIES, CONFLICTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

CurrentAffairs Get InvolvedFollow usSubscribe test ShockMonitor Research Team will participate at the seminar: COMPANIES, CONFLICTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS Tuesday, 29th May 2018 10-14 am ICIP (Institut Català Internacional per la Pau) – C. Tapineria, 10, 1a...
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Shock Monitor: State of the Art

Shock Monitor’s 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.

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The Neglected Victims: PMSC, Sexual Abuse and Physical Violence Against Girls and Women

There is a significant lack of specialized literature on the involvement of private military and security companies (PMSCs) in sexual abuses and sexual violence against women and girls.

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The Neglected Victims: PMSC, Sexual Abuse and Physical Violence Against Girls and Women

There is a significant lack of specialized literature on the involvement of private military and security companies (PMSCs) in sexual abuses and sexual violence against women and girls.

Read More

Shock Monitor: State of the Art

CurrentAffairs Get InvolvedFollow usSubscribe 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. Shock Monitor 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…

The Neglected Victims: PMSC, Sexual Abuse and Physical Violence Against Girls and Women

CurrentAffairs Get InvolvedFollow usSubscribe Leticia Barrios Trullols and Cristina Hernández Lázaro   There is a significant lack of specialized literature on the involvement of private military and security companies (PMSCs) in sexual abuses and sexual violence against women and girls. Despite a growing number of authors focused in the analysis of the gender dimension of PMSCs and the specific underrepresentation of women within the sector, the partaking of PMSC employees in violations of women’s rights is currently a subject insufficiently documented and studied in academia. The partaking of PMSC in Women’s Rights Violations is insufficiently documented After some years of experience observing and compiling impacts to Human Rights committed by PMSCs all over the world, Shock Monitor wants to raise awareness about the vitality of the issue and promote more attention to this very specific phenomenon. Due to its characteristics, sexual abuse, sexual violence and all attacks against the physical integrity of women remains under-reported­— victims are afraid of being re-victimized, socially exposed and openly questioned, leaving sexual abuse a subject to be preserved in the private sphere and therefore, societies do not always demand its accurate reporting and prosecution. In some countries, victims are even accused of teasing or vilifying the alleged abuser and even incarcerated for their claims which are considered libel and defamation. Multinational PMSCs are playing an increasingly crucial role in a wide array of security scenarios, not only in conflict zones in affected countries. Violations and Human Rights abuses are increasing dramatically in correspondence to the geographical and sectorial expansion of those companies in diverse sectors on behalf of diverse contracting actors. VIOLATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES ARE INCREASING IN CORRESPONDENCE TO PMSC EXPANSION Having said, the reliability and subjectivity of data on PMSCs and women remains challenging and prone to speculative controversy, provoking notions that a larger role and increased effort should be taken on by civil society organizations in creating databases containing disaggregated data, with variables on gender, age and even race of victims of human rights abuses. Only with an accurate documentation of cases, organizations working in the protection and promotion of Human Rights can rightfully qualify to lobby for the creation of effective structures and legal frameworks to make PMSCs accountable for their actions, abuses and violations. REGULATORY MEASURES TO INCREASE PMSC ACCOUNTABILITY REMAINS DIFFIDENT Besides some outstanding advances, the current scenario around the implementation of new regulatory measures to increase PMSC accountability over their actions and activities remains diffident, and even more uncertain regarding specific notions of sexual abuse or sexual violence. These notions are also acknowledged by academic researchers in existing literature. Eichler, for instance, mentions that “existing regulatory regimes covering PMSCs have serious limitations in regards to gender-based violence and discrimination, and the privatization of security allows for a de-politicization of gender equality issues”. Diverse authors and organizations, such as Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) have pointed out the lack of accountability of PMSCs and…

PMSC’s and Extractive Industries in Southern Africa: A good business for everyone?

CurrentAffairs Get InvolvedFollow usSubscribe Carlos Díaz Bodoque After the propagation of international private military and security companies (PMSCs) in Iraq and Afghanistan entrusted to carry military and security functions on the ground in the early 2000s, a large number of local private security forces owned by domestic nationals emerged within the market and capitalized on the demand for specialized military, security, logistical, tactical and operational services. After acknowledging the demand for localized expertise, domestic firms were able to compete with multinational PMSCs for contracts in the region. Arguably, this caused a large number of PMSCs and security personnel to look to other markets, especially in Africa to maintain their regional presence and to exploit the developing private security industry on the continent. Private security has flourished throughout Africa due to complex infrastructure ventures and the presence of valuable natural resources, especially along the Western coast in resource-rich mines and fields. The private security sector in Africa has experienced unprecedented growth over the last decade, causing instability to a region rich in natural resources and developing infrastructure. PRIVATE SECURITY HAS FLOURISHED IN AFRICA DUE TO COMPLEX INFRASTRUCTURE VENTURES AND THE PRESENCE OF NATURAL RESOURCES The private military and security sector has been growing alongside demand in Africa due to the expansion of security dynamics in services offered. For example, many PMSCs with African operations specialize in securing ships and convoys in the Indian Ocean and protecting from piracy, looking after international aid workers and civil society personnel on the ground, or protecting their assets – land, workforce and facilities – where extractives industries work, among other tasks. To put in perspective, AFRICOM, the African unified combatant commands of the United States Armed Forces, employs and contracts dozens of PMSCs across the continent. Some of the multinational PMSCs with ongoing operations and contracts in Africa are Frontier Services Group (Southern Somalia), Dyncorp (Democratic Republic of Congo), ArmorGroup (Nigeria & Sudan), G4S (continent-wide), etc., and are hired by a wide variety of public and private ventures, institutions, corporations and governments. Extractive companies constitute one of the largest contract providers to PMSCs in Africa and require large and complex security networks to safeguard their activities and protect assets from regional threats including criminal piracy, trafficking cartels, guerilla forces and expropriation efforts by corrupt government regimes. For example, many PMSCs involved in extractive industries are contracted to protect the project infrastructure and active personnel, as well as to ensure the secure transportation of the goods and products to distribution and mining sites. Having said, the high value and limited supply of precious resources results in hazardous conditions for communities located next to the mines or facilities, which are often left to face the consequences of increased security presence outside the scope of national law. In some cases, PMSCs with operations in Africa have become a direct beneficiary of political protections which often accompany contracts, achieving success through recognization within the state dimension. For example, Angolan…
The New Venture of Erik Prince: Reflex Responses Private Army

The New Venture of Erik Prince: Reflex Responses Private Army

CurrentAffairs Get InvolvedFollow usSubscribe Carlos Díaz Bodoque Erik Prince, founder of the security company Blackwater Worldwide, now formerly known as Academi and belonging to the Constellis Group, is currently the Chairman of Frontier Services Group Ltd, a company defined as a provider of integrated security, logistics and insurance services for clients operating in frontier markets. In recent years, Prince has participated in the creation of Reflex Responses, a private army founded in August 2010. In January 2011, several Arab countries contracted Erik Prince to help train a private army of 2,000 Somali recruits. In May 2011, The New York Times reported that the UAE had signed a $529 million contract with Reflex Responses to recruit and train the “Security Support Group,” a foreign legion for counterterrorism and internal security missions. According to the New York Times report, the mercenaries underwent training at a secret facility in the desert sands of the United Arab Emirates, about 20 miles outside Abu Dhabi. In Abu Dhabi, free of charge and with strong support from emirates authorities, Prince helped to recruit troops for the Reflex Responses, also known as R2 Prince’s ties to the United Arab Emirates are intense. He moved to Abu Dhabi in 2010 in order to wash his image due to the Blackwater scandal and the many legal problems the company was involved in United States, which led him, in the same year, to sell Blackwater Worldwide. In Abu Dhabi, free of charge and with strong support from Emirati authorities, Prince helped to recruit troops for the Reflex Responses, also known as R2. Led by Mike Hindmarsh, a former senior Australian military officer who has been listed as commander of the UAE’s Presidential Guard, Reflex Responses participated in several military missions on behalf of the UAE. According to some sources, private contractors working for R2 have been flying Emirati military aircrafts in Libyan airspace and reportedly targeting critical infrastructure in bomb raids throughout the country. Foreign private security contractors are another volatile element plaguing the Middle East, further desestabilizing the region The UAE has not only used Reflex Responses for self-defence but has also used the private military contractor in their participation in foreign conflict, notably in Libya and Yemen., R2 is focusing its efforts to assist and dynamize the proxy war in Yemen- a convoluted conflict between Saudi Arabia and its allies against the Irani-backed Houthis. Recent reports allege that R2 has engaged in acts of domestic repression as well as suffering substantial casualties within their combat personnel. Foreign private security contractors are another volatile element plaguing the Middle East, further destabilizing the region as can be observed in the privatization of warfare in Iraq since 2003. According to the former R2 employees, most of the enlisted combat and non-combat personnel are former military specialists from Colombia and South Africa, and have been extensively trained by retired US soldiers, as well as veterans of the British, German and French Special… read more
The Northern Triangle of Central America as a PMSC Powerhouse

The Northern Triangle of Central America as a PMSC Powerhouse

CurrentAffairs Get InvolvedFollow usSubscribe J. Andrew Carter, Jr. 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). Notably, the high level of narco-trafficking in the region has transformed and shaped the dynamics of insecurity within the Northern Triangle and facilitated the establishment of outlets for logistic support services, including transport, storage and packaging, to criminal cartels and gangs involved in the illegal narcotics and arms trade (Chinchilla 2002:10). The thriving networks of organized crime have directly affected the rates of violent crime and homicides throughout Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. According to the 2013 report by the United Nations on Drugs and Crime, the Northern Triangle nations scored the highest in average homicides per 100,000 citizens: Guatemala with 39.3, El Salvador with 39.8 and Honduras with 84.3, where an astonishing 4% of homicides committed between 2010-2013 resulted in convictions (El Heraldo 2014). Ineffective Public Security Frames and Privatization of Security Taking into consideration the threshold of violence and criminality in the region, the Northern Triangle, contradictingly, has the largest concentration of private security personnel in Central America (Ramsey 2012). The prevalent insecurity felt among populations throughout the Northern Triangle where rising crime rates and ineffective law enforcement has led to the growth and increased dependence on private security services, whose impact hast the potential to reinforce public security. Since the 1980s, the Northern Triangle alone has experienced a substantial increase in the number of community-based agencies or vigilante groups of concerned citizens that engage in crime and conflict prevention services where they have been largely ignored or outside the scope of law enforcement, founded on the principles of deterrence and exacerbation of local and regional criminality (Müller 2010:131). The international private security industry is estimated to be worth $244 billion in 2016 whereas $30 billion of which accounts for Latin America (UNODC 2014a:2). Estimates show that over 4 million working-age citizens are employed by the private security sector in Central America, which indicate a spike in regional demand for such services by individuals, non-governmental organizations as well as public sector governments (Dammert 2008:3, UN 2013:6). In Central America alone, private security guards outnumber police personnel in all countries except El Salvador (UNODC 2012:71). Corresponding to the increase in supply of private military firms and personnel operating in the international community was an increase in demand for smaller-scale military services. The demand is multi-dimensional in the sense that consists of developed states with downsized military sectors, developing or emerging states seeking to upgrade or advance their military capabilities in preparation… read more
Is there a control over the Private Military & Security Companies?

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… read more
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