PRIVATIZATION OF SECURITY: FUNDAMENTAL FACTORS IN THE EXPANSION OF PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANIES

PRIVATIZATION OF SECURITY: FUNDAMENTAL FACTORS IN THE EXPANSION OF PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANIES

Babadac, Andrei Alexandru. The International Annual Scientific Session Strategies XXI, suppl. CDSSS: 314-320. Bucharest: “Carol I” National Defence University. (2013)

Abstract (summary)

The end of the Cold War has fundamentally changed the nature of the conflicts on the world stage, bringing the private security companies into the spotlight. These are providing a wide range of services from logistics and auxiliary to the complete replacement of the national armies. This paper starts from the conditions that allowed a market for the private security companies in Romania and then examines how it evolved over the time. The existing theories stress several factors that explain the social and political conditions that allow the private security market to expand over time. The analysis of the validity of these factors brings a more nuanced image, some of them giving relevant explanations. The organizational transformation of the structure of the armed forces and the trend of externalization for certain services resulted in a large number of military trained personnel being available on the labour market. The former is a driving factor in the expansion of the private security market, while the latter holds rather a collateral role. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

Headnote

The end of the Cold War has fundamentally changed the nature of the conflicts on the world stage, bringing the private security companies into the spotlight. These are providing a wide range of services from logistics and auxiliary to the complete replacement of the national armies. This paper starts from the conditions that allowed a market for the private security companies in Romania and then examines how it evolved over the time.

The existing theories stress several factors that explain the social and political conditions that allow the private security market to expand over time. The analysis of the validity of these factors brings a more nuanced image, some of them giving relevant explanations. The organizational transformation of the structure of the armed forces and the trend of externalization for certain services resulted in a large number of military trained personnel being available on the labour market. The former is a driving factor in the expansion of the private security market, while the latter holds rather a collateral role.

Keywords: European Union, expansion, military, private security.

1. Introduction

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t speak of the existence of any form of threat, with states being able to ensure the appropriate protection of their residents and belongings. It is difficult to talk about “public safety” and “public order” without connecting the two. This is the basic requirement for the functioning within the state of law. As independent units, the two should be understood as the sum of all regulations written or informal that must be taken into account as the base of the link between them. Safety earned a new collective meaning. It is difficult to create a perfect social model and to establish which aspects of public life have to be securitized.

The use of private military companies ever increased in international conflicts, contractors being used regularly to protect international personnel or their belongings. The first question that should be addressed is that of the rules governing the companies: what is their responsibility and who controls them? They can’t be a direct subject of international law as they don’t represent states, however, their employees are subject to the criminal law of the jurisdiction they belong to.* 1

On the other hand, in many communities it was the rise of criminality that was the driving factor in the expansion of the private security market. Therefore, those communities – the exact number is not known – started to use the services provided by private security companies. These are by no means military organizations. Their employees rise only to the status of civilian personnel under the Geneva Conventions on the laws of war and its additional protocols, at least as long as they are not directly involved in hostilities. In the latter case, private military companies can be held accountable under national criminal law. Private contractors involved in hostilities are considered combatant only if they are hired by a regular army or incorporated into one. Otherwise, they are classified as mercenaries under the Protocols I, II and HI of the Geneva Conventions. Despite these, the boundaries between security missions and being involved in hostilities are highly volatile.2

The reduction of the armed forces at the end of the Cold War in the 1990s lead to a surplus of highly trained military personnel on the labour market, the United States andGreat Britain being the largest contributors for the private security industry. At the global level, the United States, Great Britain, South Africa and Israel are the largest contractors of private security. The same process affected the armed forces of the Russian Federation. In the case of Romania, the extemalization of the security services took place at the same time with the professionalization of the armed forces and the decrease in the number of servicemen in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The end of the Cold War led to the disappearance of the so called “proxy wars,” external state actors becoming less and less interested in the prevention and control of such disputes. This resulted from a series of low intensity internal conflicts, most of them being simply ignored by the international community in the sense of an absent intervention to control the respective conflict. The lack of foreign forces providing military assistance made the emergence of private contractors possible who filled their place. The multinational military companies proved to be less involved in corruption and little to none from an ethnic, religious or political perspective, contrary to local contractors, militias or mercenaries.

Developed countries, especially the United States, discovered the potential of the private security companies in the context of the Iraqi war in the 1990s and increased significantly after 2001 in the context of the Global War on Terror.

Furthermore, former servicemen provide security for maritime transports in highly dangerous areas, becoming known as individual security contractors. A majority of them are benefiting from the experience gained in military missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ensuring internal security and the respect for the law is the main preoccupation and the exclusive responsibility of States; even though it might not be mentioned expressly in their fundamental laws. With regards to ensuring the respect for basic human rights, the State holds the monopoly on the use of force, this being one of its basic functions. However, the result isn’t a guarantee of the monopoly on the use of force to ensure security. In fulfilling this task elements from outside, the structures within the state may also be involved, but the necessity to involve them must be clearly stated. The basic function to ensure security entrusted to the public authority establishes the obligation of the state to protect its citizens and to ensure their safety. Considering all of the above, we must not neglect the issue with the inclusion of the private security in preserving the public order and the legal limits imposed to them.

Moreover, there is a growing concern in the public sphere, at governmental level and among the professionals in the security sector regarding the emergence of another armed group that has to be controlled. These concerns resulted as effects of several unfortunate accidents in conflict zones such as Iraq that were later confirmed by unquestionable proof. In general, private security industry is dominated by former servicemen and policemen and other professionals generally accustomed with a certain conduct. Nonetheless, there is also the possibility of regrettable errors such would be the cases of killing innocent fishermen in the effort of ensuring the safety of shipping vessels. The possibility to prosecute such cases against private military companies remains much more limited than in the case of military operations.

The legal status of private security as given by the Additional Protocols of the Geneva Convention on the Law of War, especially in respect to their combative status, is subject to many debates. In 1989, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries, thus limiting the options for private security companies and generating a series of black holes in international law. A first attempt to build a common intergovernmental framework to establish a legal statute for the private military companies was done by the Montreux Declaration, adopted by 17 states in September 2008, despite its non-binding character.

The legal status of these companies is controversial for the perspective of the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Convention in order to be able to avoid any possible sanctions as a result of work in areas such as Africa or Middle East. Even though they are bound to abide the law in a high number of jurisdictions they are also under the supervision of United Nations inspectors in matters of respecting embargoes. Even though they are restricted by the international law, the presence of armed personnel aboard of international cargo ships was negatively received by a large number of groups and international organizations.

2. A European perspective on private security

Private security business involves more than two million professionals at the level of the European Union, which are hired by more than 50.000 companies. In general, it is a mature and specialized industry. These companies are usually organized around the European Confederation for Security Services founded in 1989. This organization facilitated cooperation and bilateral relation within it and at the global level, supporting the creation of work standards and harmonizing the national legislation regulating private security, one if its main goals being to harmonize the industry and the personnel training.

These add to the creation of a framework of sectorial rules that should cause a change between private security and private military companies and develop the cooperation based upon the professional and business structure from within the European Union, with a strong accent laid on critical infrastructures and the protection of strategic objectives.

The European Union eliminated its internal boundaries, created a unique currency and currently is heading towards a fiscal and monetary union. It is worth to be mentioned that the EU can represent a vector of development with solid unitary principles at the global level and that the security market in Europe finds itself within a set of conditions that can lead to the creation of a global model for the field. Effectively, in the author’s opinion, there is a real possibility to establish a standardized model in the security industry, but this can’t exist in the absence of the atomization of legislation, sectorial expertise and harmonizedrequirements, thus involving a great number of perspectives and realities. The question that should be addressed is how an EU member state can benefit of another’s experience to increase the standards in the field.

Private security in the European Union represented a market of over 35 billion euro in 2011, bringing together a couple of hundreds of people protecting a couple of millions of square metres of buildings, public and private.3 The rise of the industry also marked an increase of the quality of the human capital due to the increase of spending on their training. These also led to the preconditions that facilitated the adoption of the law no. 333 from 2003 regulating the industry of private security in Romania.

The legislation governing the private security in the European Union member states must consider the realities of an industry that in many times is influenced by the ever increasing need of society to ensure higher and higher levels of public security and at the same time by the obligations on the State to its own citizens – all these being in a continuous process of change that influences the legal framework, rules and others standards applied.4 We believe that any changes into the legislation should consider the increase of the training of security personnel. In this sense there was a significant increase of continuous training programs, this being acknowledged by the competent authorities in the ministries of interior. The security personnel, from bodyguards to top management, should be part of a process of continuous learning under the direct supervision of the academic institutions.

Despite the big number of contractors involved in large-scale operations, it is reasonable to believe that the tates will continue to hold the control over the monopoly on violence. Privatization involves, to a certain extent, the will of the private sector to find viable economic solutions, offering market-needed solutions for the identified threats and vulnerabilities. A fundamental element of this theory says that although privatization can be seen as a provocation to the idea of the monopoly on violence, it doesn’t represent a new phenomenon. It must be remembered that the idea of the state monopoly on violence is relatively new, associated with the consolidated modem state. These are holding the effective control over the internal instmments, their use varying depending on time and place. From a larger historical perspective, the privatization of security will represent a return on the market to individual players.

3. Private security in Romania

According to a CoESS report from 20115, there were 1282 security companies registered, having over 107 thousands employees, 95 thousands of them holding professional licenses. A total of 35 thousands private security agents were authorized to hold lethal weapons. Statistically speaking, 85 percent of them are males. The use of canine units and of horses is not strictly regulated. However, their use is limited to security plans previously approved by the police.

The regulation of the market is done by The Law regulating the private security industry no. 333 from 2003 and its subsequent modifications done by the law 40 of 2010. The national authority competent in the regulation and management within the industry is the Ministry of Internal Affairs through the General Police Department.6

In what concerns the financial matters, the private security sector rises to 643.3 million euro yearly. The most important companies in Romania, G4S Romania and BGS, value together 77.8 million euro, servicing the major private companies in the country.7 It is important to mention that the private security market in Romania is worth a third of the annual budget of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and it is expected that these numbers grow with the expansion of the market.

At the national level, the private security market is organized across several professional organizations among which we mention the Federation for Security Services, whose declared objective is to represent and support the interests within the industry in relation with the national authorities and third parties.8

Conclusions

The simple fact that the providers of private security within the areas of military interests are deployed in order to preserve critical infrastructures underlines the fragility of the privatization of the security. A company can easily go to strike, withdraw from a market or become bankrupt without the possibility to be forced to respect its contractual obligations, while in the traditional military structures this is impossible despite all other inconveniences. We must also evaluate the success rate of the private security companies, in order to determine if their services are superior in the use of conventional military forces, in the condition that the latter are far less costly.

The private security companies are constantly being criticized due to inherent deficiencies and comparisons – be they under military or governmental control. Moreover, they are being connected almost all the time with the military-industrial complex, their use being a cause for the continuation of an ongoing conflict.

The private nature of the security sector represents a provocation to the governmental authority, considering that the companies can go bankrupt, in contrast to the traditional military. Moreover, the economic element of the privatization of force makes the market economy rules to apply only partially considering that they are hired by governments or governmental agencies. All these make the market an oligopoly, where a few companies serve a short list of contractors. Moreover, the status of the contractors makes it very difficult to seal long-term contracts.

Footnote

1 Chia LEHNARDT, “Individual Liability of Private Military Personnel under International Criminal Law “, European Journal of International Law 19, no. 5 (November 2008): 1015-34, accessed October 16, 2013, http://dx.doi. org/10.1093/ejil/chn058.

Footnote

2 Dario AZZELLINI, “Die neuen Söldner”, KJ / Kritische Justiz {2008): 310-16, accessed September 10, 2013,http://dx.doi.org.pentagonlibrary.idm.oclc.org/10.5771/0023-4834-2008-3-310.

Footnote

3 Confederation of European Security Services, “Private Security Services in Europe Facts and Figures 2011 “Confederation of European Security Services (2011) p. 143.

4 COESS “The socio-economic added value of private security services in Europe” http://coess.eu/_Uploads/dbsAttachedFiles/CoESS_witboek_Socio_economic_study_2013_final.pdf , Madrid 2013.

Footnote

5 COESS 2011, .pp. 99-102.

6 Law 333/2003.

7 Razvan Mureçan, “Romania’s private army: How BGS transforms force into money,” Business Magazin, 21 August 2013.

8 Romanian Federation for Security Services, “About us,” September 12, 2013, accessed September 12, 2013, http://www.fss.org.ro/despre.

References

Bibliography:

1. ABRAHAMSEN, Rita, and Michael C. Williams. Security Beyond the State: Private Security in International Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011 ;

2. AZZELLINI, Dario “Die neuen Söldner.” KJ / Kritische Justiz {2008): 310-16. Accessed September 10, 2013. http://dx.doi.org.pentagonlibrary.idm.oclc.org/10.5771/00234834-2008-3-310;

3. BORN, Hans, CAPARINI Maria and COLE Eden, Regulating Private Security in Europe: Status and Prospects. Geneva: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces, 2007;

4. Confederation of European Security Services. “Private Security Services in Europe Facts and Figures 2011, Confederation of European Security Services, 2011;

5. DONAIS, Timothy, ed. Local Ownership and Security Sector Reform (geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (deaf)). Zürich: LIT Verlag, 2008;

6. Federatia Serviciilor de Securitate din România. “Despre Noi..” September 12, 2013. Accessed September 12, 2013. http ://www.fss.org.ro/despre;

7. LEHNARDT, Chia. “Individual Liability of Private Military Personnel under International Criminal Law .”European Journal of International Law 19, no. 5 (November 2008): 1015-34. Consultât la 16 octombrie 2013. http://dx.doi.org.pentagonlibrary.idm.oclc.org/10.1093/ejil/chn058;

8. MAGGIO, Edward J. Private Security in the 21st Century: Concepts and Applications. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2009;

9. Nemeth, Charles. Private Security and the Law, Fourth Edition. 4 ed. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2011.

AuthorAffiliation

Andrei Alexandru BABADAC*

AuthorAffiliation

* Andrei Alexandru BABADAC is Master student within “Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy, Bucharest, Romania. Email: andrei.a.babadac@gmail.com

This entry was posted in Academic and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply