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Normalization of mercenary-like private military and security companies: the need for re-securitization of regulation

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Abstract

Sudden proliferation of contractors in armed conflict and post-conflict situations and severe incidents in the first decade of this century drove to securitization of their regulation. Accomplishments included establishment of international principles and national regulations that improved contracting processes of Western governments and the practices of these contractors. The appearance of Russian-affiliated mercenary-like entities and assertions of their moral equivalence to western private military and security companies (PMSCs) threaten the outcome of the securitization effort. Further, the Russian model of mercenary-like entities may proliferate, propping up totalitarian governments and destabilizing at-risk democracies. We argue that re-securitization is necessary to safeguard the current progress in limiting the internationally accepted governmental use of PMSCs in military operations. This re-securitization must include addressing vocabulary and reviewing existing legal obligations regarding combat provider companies to determine applicability of existing law and make recommendations for good practices to set ordinary regulatory processes back on track.
Vol:.(1234567890)
International Politics (2021) 58:772–791
https://doi.org/10.1057/s41311-020-00271-3
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Normalization ofmercenary‑like private military
andsecurity companies: theneed forre‑securitization
ofregulation
JovanaJezdimirovicRanito1 · ChristopherT.Mayer2
Accepted: 21 November 2020 / Published online: 4 January 2021
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited part of Springer Nature 2021
Abstract
Sudden proliferation of contractors in armed conflict and post-conflict situations and
severe incidents in the first decade of this century drove to securitization of their
regulation. Accomplishments included establishment of international principles
and national regulations that improved contracting processes of Western govern-
ments and the practices of these contractors. The appearance of Russian-affiliated
mercenary-like entities and assertions of their moral equivalence to western private
military and security companies (PMSCs) threaten the outcome of the securitization
effort. Further, the Russian model of mercenary-like entities may proliferate, prop-
ping up totalitarian governments and destabilizing at-risk democracies. We argue
that re-securitization is necessary to safeguard the current progress in limiting the
internationally accepted governmental use of PMSCs in military operations. This re-
securitization must include addressing vocabulary and reviewing existing legal obli-
gations regarding combat provider companies to determine applicability of existing
law and make recommendations for good practices to set ordinary regulatory pro-
cesses back on track.
Keywords Quasi mecenary organizations· PMSC· Securitization· Mercenaries
Introduction
During the night of February 7, 2018, a pro-Assad force of ~ 500 men with tanks, other
armored vehicles, and artillery attacked a natural gas plant defended by Kurdish and
Arab militia and a little more than two dozen US special operations soldiers. During
the four-hour battle, the defenders employed direct fire, artillery, helicopters, and strike
aircraft. When daylight came, there were no American casualties or coalition partner
* Jovana Jezdimirovic Ranito
jovanaranito@gmail.com
1 University College Twente, Enschede, Netherlands
2 United States Army Retired, US National Security Advisor, Washington, DC, USA
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