Protecting the Victims of the Privatization of War

Protecting the Victims of the Privatization of War

Willem van Genugten

Tilburg Law School

Marie-José Van der Heijden

University of Utrecht

Nicola Jägers

Tilburg University – Faculty of Law

February 4, 2013

Rianne Letschert and Jan Van Dijk (Eds), The New Faces of Victimhood, Dordrecht/Heidelberg/London/New York: Springer, 2011, pp. 253-278
Tilburg Law School Research Paper No. 06/2013


Since the end of the Cold War one can observe an increased role of private military and security companies in conflict areas. States, most notably the United States of America and the United Kingdom, but increasingly also other states such as South Africa, are outsourcing war efforts, while in general progressively more tasks are being contracted out to these Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs). The PMSCs provide a wide pallet of services ranging from consultancy to combat, and it may be easier to categorize some of these activities as military than others such as logistic services, training and operational support.

The increased reliance on PMSCs is not without problems. The chapter focuses upon the accountability gap that has surfaced since the tremendous growth of the use of PMSCs. It does so from a double victim perspective: it relates to employees of these companies falling victim to war activities and to people that become victims of the activities of PMSCs. The latter issue has been given a lot of publicity over the last couple of years, while so far the first issue has been neglected and should receive more attention since the employees of the PMSCs are increasingly victimized.

Many PMSCs are professional firms that operate in a correct and responsible manner, in such fields as logistic services, training and operational support. However, the primary motive of these companies – usually operating at a great distance from the sending state – is an economic one which does not necessarily correspond with the public interests of the state. Especially troublesome from the double victim’s perspective is the lack of legal clarity. The aim of this chapter is to clarify the legal framework applicable to PMSCs in order to, ultimately, answer the question how victims can hold PMSCs to account and seek redress.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 27

Keywords: Outsourcing, privatization, state responsibility, PMSCs, private military and security companies

JEL Classification: K33


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